The Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) spent P4.3 million on urgent upgrades for the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium to pass a late CAF suitability test.
When it all seemed imminent that Botswana will play their international games away from home, the venue passed CAF's test at the 11th hour. This means the Zebras' clash against Equatorial Guinea next week Tuesday will be played at the Francistown venue.
This is after the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture provided P4.3 million for the renovations. BNSC CEO, Tuelo Serufho briefed journalists this week on how the venue passed a late 'fitness' test. “We have received many questions on whether the Zebras will play their game at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium and the answer to that question is yes,” Serufho said.
He said both the Obed Itani Chilume and National Stadiums had failed the test to host Category Three matches, which include national team encounters. However, Serufho said the Francistown stadium was the closest to meeting the requirements. “To meet the required standards by CAF for the category, we were required to put signage around the stadium and also put refrigerators as well as computers in the match delegates' offices and change rooms for athletes,” Serufho stated.
It did not only stop at putting in refrigerators as Serufho went on to point out that they also included designated parking for the media. Serufho said that they also included a meeting room and press conference room. He said these were minor issues, as they did not "wreck their minds about them". The bigger issues to be attended to, Serufho indicated, were the lighting and the turf. “At the time of the CAF inspection our lighting was around 450 lights when we needed a minimum of 1,200 lights to meet the category,” he said. “And now I can confirm that we have exceeded the minimum target as our lights currently stand at 1,500,” an elated Serufho said.
As for the turf, Serufho said the lawn was worn out as it had not been maintained for some time and it was not at the right height according to CAF standards. “We, however, worked around the clock to cut down the grass to the required height by CAF and to do this we closed the stadium fully hence why Eleven has not been playing their home games at Obed Itani,” added Serufho. Serufho said further to the upgrades, a roof will be erected over the grandstand to ensure the venue is suitable to host CAF's category four matches.