The calamity that struck Francistown football in the past two seasons has left the second city with no team in the elite league. Tafic was the first one to bite the dust in 2014, Ecco City Greens followed in the next season; however, Matjimenyenga as Tafic is known have learnt from their bungle two seasons ago and they are plotting a ferocious comeback to the premier league. Mabikani Matjimenyenga.
When Tafic gained promotion to the then super league in 2002, the ecstasy that gripped its fans was as intense as the gloom that overtook them at the end of the 2013-14 season when the team was condemned to the first division. Tafic made history by being the first team from up north to clinch the Coca Cola cup in 2002. But following their demise, the team experienced internal squabbling with Humphrey Nawa and Gilbert Makombo’s factions tearing the team apart.
In the lower division, they started their first season on a low note which saw them at some point occupying the last spot. However the team managed to find the right footing and finished the campaign on 4th position and having missed the premier league play-offs by a whisker. Now the team is gearing up for the new season targeting ‘’straight promotion to the elite league’’.
Tafic which has in the past been regarded as the pride of Francistown as it was the first team to win the FA Cup in 2002 and having produced football legends like Jomo ‘Nobody’ Mosweu, Mmoloki ‘BB’ Sechele and Mlungisi Kopi just to mention but a few intend to bring back smiles to its fans and the city at large. According to the team’s marketing manager Tebogo Toteng, they have learnt from the blunders that led to their relegation to the first division.
“For you to attract sponsorships you should have good governance and this is what we have done, and it was a lesson to our people because they are united and we are committed to one goal.’’ The team’s failure to unite has been blamed for the relegation as sponsors ditched them owing to good governance.
‘Undipe-ndi-kupe’ as the club is fondly called by its legion of fans is planning to retain most of its squad so that there will be continuation in the coming season but they won’t stand in any player’s way. To make their intentions clear, they have already started the pre-season training at Leseding grounds making them the only first division side to do so. This weekend, the team will battle it out with city rivals Ecco city greens in a one day tournament sponsored by Buy & Build in bid to put the team in right shape.
The finances have proven to be one of the factors that led to the downfall of the team and its leadership are working tirelessly to source out funds for the team. The team has started selling new replicas at P175, 00 and will host a dinner at Andasonia hotel to try to boost their wallet. In terms of sponsorship Toteng said “So far we are still running around to get something, even a little sponsorship to help in the administrative part.”
The cautious marketing manager however could not discuss the developing prospects of the return of the Francistown businessman Don Moore and other corporates who are said to be willing to help the team saying he couldn’t comment at the moment.
The Francistown leaders are also mobilising the community to rally behind the team which was formed as a social club compared to Tasc, Ecco and GNT which were institutional teams originally.
The Chairman of Francistown Football Association (FRAFA) Jonas Msomi Ikgopoleng says they have engaged the city big-wigs to help the teams to ensure their entry into the premier league next season. Ikgopoleng added that they will meet with the mayor, Grace Muzila to see how to better help the teams. Asked whether they have identified one team to push to the elite league, he said whichever one that will start the season well will be given full support by the region.
In the general assembly two weeks ago, peace and tranquillity prevailed with supporters coming with suggestions here and there. This has been welcomed by the team and regional leadership as they believe this is what the doctor has ordered for the team.
ECCO ALSO AIM TO BOUNCE BACK
However, Tafic is not the only team fighting for a comeback, city compatriots, Ecco City Greens who were relegated last season are also ploting promotion to the elite league by the end of the season. ‘Mamoja Diskie’ has signed a deal with a local designer Makungupuleswa in bid to avoid spending much with other fancied labels- this in an endeavour to be prudent when it comes to finances as it is the reason why they relegated.
The team mouthpiece, Dingalo Dickson says everything is going accordingly and their mandate is to return to the premier league. Although it is still dry in terms of sponsorships, he remained adamant that they will use everything at their disposal to ensure that they come back; Dingalo added that they don’t want to lose many players “we want to retain a third of our current contingent of players”.
Among the preparations, the team will be holding an elective assembly this weekend to appoint a committee that will steer the team to its destination.
The Francistown region has for long time dominated First Division North and the region says it wants the two teams back in the premier league; however it won’t be easy as there are other teams like Kazungula and Mahalapye Hotspurs who can spoil the party for Francistowners.
With just three weeks left before the World Athletics Championships kicks off in London, the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has set a modest target for its athletes, demanding a paltry two medals.
The members of the team that will be participating in the event are currently training. They are expected to leave on July 10. The Botswana team, which was composed of young athletes, was able to secure seven medals at the recently concluded Africa Senior Championships held in Mauritius. They were placed sixth out of 44 participating nations.
According to Oabona Theetso, the Vice President of the Botswana Athletics Association, the team’s goal is to secure two medals at the World Championships. On the other hand, the under-20 team’s goal is to bag at least four medals.
Nevertheless, Theetso said the team which is currently on training camp encompasses of Isaac Makwala, Nigel Amos, Anthony Pesela, Bayapo Ndori, Letsile Tebogo, Isaac Makwala, and Thalosang Tshireletso of High jump just to mention the few. Theetso noted that the training camp was not able to produce a female athlete due to the failure of the female athletes to secure a ticket to the event.
Theetso also noted that the BNOC gave the BAA about P500 000 to help fund the team’s preparations for the event. Besides the training camp, the organization additionally received the same funding for the Oregon World Champion team.
When asked about the presence of renowned athlete and 800m world record holder, Nijel Amos, at the training camp, Theetso revealed that he has never officially communicated his intention to become an independent athlete.
When further pressed about the outcome of the meeting between Amos and the Minister – Theetso said, “We are unaware that he ever meets with Rakgare. If they met without the presence of BAA official, it will be wrong and highly regrettable,” he said.
When contacted for a comment Tlhobo Tlhasana who is Public Relations Officer at Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture confirmed to this publication that Amos met with Minister Tumiso Rakgare a few weeks after the 2012 Olympic silver medalist made known his intention to go solo.
“The minister is at liberty to meet any sport personality from different codes in his capacity as the minister. He doesn’t need the permission from BAA or let alone BNSC to have a meeting with Amos,” he noted. Meanwhile in 2019, BAA sent a strong team of 13 athletes, with five focused on individual categories, while others were to form part of relay team.
During that time two out of five athletes who were to represent this country within individual events were relegated to spectators owing to injuries. But the injuries on the two athletes had left one question on the lips of many within the athletics fraternity.
The duo of Nigel Amos and Galefele Moroko, who were undoubtedly team Botswana poster kids, saw their dream of sailing through in the competitions halted as they were forced out of tournament owing to injuries. Botswana eventually came home empty handed after failing to secure podium finish.
Botswana Football League (BFL) Chairperson Nicholas Zackem who is also a Gaborone United financier and director says Township Rollers should instead of being a hard-nut be remorseful on the Onkarabile Ratanang marathon case.
In an interview with WeekendSport this week, Zackhem says he has always had a good relationship with his Township Rollers counterpart, Jagdish Shah. However things took a nasty turn early this year when it surfaced that their left back Onkarabile Ratanang was not registered accordingly.
Again, the Rollers home game against GU played in February which resulted in a near stampede left him agitated such that Rollers should learn a lesson. “So with all these I think they should be remorseful and stop being militant,” he said.
His contention is, “this is recurring and with only one team – Rollers. Remember what happened in 2014 when BDF X1 was leading the log and they were docked points which in turn allowed Rollers to win.” In 2016 there was Ofentse Nato (Rollers player) saga where he was also not duly registered and now we are here again with Ratanang. This should be corrected to better our football.”
The Ratanang case has been dragging for months now and has created unnecessary chaos in local football. Of late the football league awards ceremony had to be postponed with those in the know saying it is because of the matter. A statement from BFL however says the postponement is a result of logistical challenges.
The BFL boss says he does not care what should happen to Rollers, which is arguably the most followed football team in the land. “Even if the relevant structure could fine the P100k or relegate or even be docked points I don’t care but I want them to respect football. My worry is they should be disciplined because they committed a heartfelt mistake.”
Some football commentators say there is high possibility of Rollers be axed from the elite league because they are facing a misconduct charge which means they can only plea for a lighter sentence like points docking.
When asked about reports of some players from other teams not registered accordingly just like Ratanang, Zackhem said it will be up to the relevant structures to decide because as far as he is concerned, the Rollers case is the only one that has been reported at Botswana Football Association (BFA).
ZAC ON BRIBING REFEREES
The 2021/22 football season was exciting but here and there it was blotted by allegations which were pointed at Zackhem himself as the league Chair of buying referees. He has vehemently dismissed those reports and rumours saying the current GU arsenal does not need any favors.
“We invested heavily on this team and if you have invested surely you are poised to win everything on offer. Look at the players that I have do you think I would need referees to win matches? Most of the players have also been called to the national team and that alone proves their mettle. I don’t remember the last time GU was awarded a penalty this season, it has been a team work and those referee talk is baseless.”
“I am a dreamer and perseverance is my name because after writing my Cambridge examinations a few years ago, I grouped young footballers in Francistown and started a youthful unregistered football team with them.
It was a difficult thing to do because the players were students and parents were not letting some of them to play football as they believed it might negatively affect their studies and some of the big clubs in the elite league will come and take my players.”
This is how Seemo ‘Sixteen’ Mpatane, a coach and founder of Eleven Angels football club which gained promotion to the elite league last weekend describe himself and the journey thus far. Barely two weeks ago, Mochudi Center chiefs failed to pluck Angels’ wings when they hosted them at Riverplate grounds during the first leg of the Botswana Football league promotional playoffs but this past Saturday Angels soared to a 5 – 0 win over them to reach the promised land.
The win meant Lekgamu la Bananyana (youthful side) as they affectionately known will now make a debut appearance at the apex of local league football. For a match characterized by a long stoppage time following clashes between Angels and Chiefs supporters, it was Angels who showed more battle to convincingly beat Chiefs and attain promotion.
Nevertheless, Mpatane said, “I continued to coach my team even when I was still studying at Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) in Francistown and it was a difficult journey because I had some school projects to do and I will divert my monthly allowance to some of my players; to feed them, provide transportation for them and also to buy them soccer boots,” he stated.
In 2013, he says, he decided to register the team officially with Botswana Football Association (BFA) in order to protect the players from other teams and to make income out of the team. He further said Lekgamu La Bananyana started in Third Division league when they got position one and gained automatic promotion to Second Division league although it was only their first season to play there.
“We struggled at Second Division because I had inexperienced youthful players and had limited resources like transportation, soccer boots and most of our players were sitting for their examinations, but we managed to avoid relegation as we finished in position four,” he alluded.
In 2017/18 season, he said the team won the Second Division League and qualified for the Debswana First Division North playoffs. During the playoffs, the team represented Francistown region, against other three teams from other regions, to be precise Chobe United, Maun Terrors and White Diamond from Boteti region.
In addition, the young tactician managed to produce quality players like Norman Mabaya who plays for Orapa united, Doctor David and Fortunate Thulare of Jwaneng Galaxy and Molaodi Tlhalefang of Security Systems who went and made their caps at the senior national team.
“I achieved one of my dreams; that is to take my team to the elite league and I’m left with one that is coaching at national level and I think after getting my license I will be ready to lead under 17, 20, 23 and even the national team cause it just requires humility, love, perseverance and commitment, but right I can offer my services cause football is in the heart,” he said.
Mpatane revealed his intention is to see more of his players participating at national level and overseas, as this week Zebras interim coach Mogomotsi Mpote called the 18-year-old Monty Enosa to be part of Zebras team which will compete for COSAFA tournament that is set to kick off next month.