FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana Football Association (BFA) says it will not bow to public pressure to turn the Francistown Sports Complex into the Zebras’ home base.
Francistown has, just like an enduring marriage, remained faithful to the national team even in trying circumstances.
More than 12,000 fans were at the stadium last week Friday to watch the dead rubber between the Zebras and Angola’s Palancas Negras. The match was of no significance, but still fans from the North, saw it fit to go through the turnstiles to watch the game.
Attendances for the Zebras at the traditional home of football, the National Stadium in Gaborone, had hit rock bottom in recent times, and the shift to Francistown has been a breathe of fresh air.
BFA marketing and public relations officer, Tumo Mpatane said despite the constant impressive turnout in the country’s second city, BFA will not succumb to pressure from supporters and turn Francistown Sport complex into a base for the national team.
He stated that the BFA will continue doing its best to ensure that it entices football supporters to attend Zebras matches at the National Stadium. “Going forward we will vigorously market games played in Gaborone. We will not abandon the National Stadium. The support of the people of Francistown is something we really appreciate.
We however have to balance the scale in terms of hosting all national team matches for both men and women’s teams,” said Mpatane. “We will start vigorously marketing national team matches played at the National Stadium beginning with the upcoming women’s national team match against Namibia.
We are trying to apply some of the marketing initiatives (in Gaborone) we apply when we play in Francistown and we hope they will bear fruit.”
Mpatane added that apart from marketing, various factors might also be behind the constant impressive attendance of matches in northern city. “I think the people of Francistown also have a soft spot and natural adoration for the team.” The senior women national team takes on Namibia in an Olympic qualifier next weekend.
There was a time when the then Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Thapelo Olopeng suggested that Francistown Sports Complex should be turned into a base for the national team.
The Francistown Sports Complex holds the record for a Zebras match after 26, 262 fans turned up to watch the team play against Mali in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in 2015.