In stark contrast to the impressive and more inspired facilities that continue to mushroom around the country, the Selebi Phikwe Stadium remains a concrete and dusty relic lost in time.
Compared to modern facilities that have sprung up in Francistown and Lobatse, the copper mining town’s facility simply resembles the ruins of ancient Rome. Recently other cities, towns and villages have benefitted from more glamorous facilities to hold high profile events and sports activities. Most notably is the soon to be opened Francistown Stadium and the refreshing and colourful Lobatse Sports Complex able to comfortably host over 20 000 people.
Villages like Masunga, Molepolole and Serowe have also benefitted from decent stadium facilities. However, the northern mining town seems to have been kicked to the curb while other parts of the country were allocated the budget for better facilities. The 9000 ‘seater’ Phikwe stadium owned by the town council remains a raw deal for football supporters who continue to throng the venue for football games and other activities. Clearly Selebi Phikwe, the third biggest town in the country, deserves better than a facility that resembles ancient Roman ruins. Building a better facility should be a matter of urgency for Phikwe, which is home to a population of over 50 000 people and a number of football teams, with two playing in the country’s elite league and a few others in the lower divisions. That Nico United and FC Satmos have over the years prominently featured in the premier league should count for something. The inadequacy of the stadium was more pronounced over the weekend when hosting the Mascom Top 8 game between Nico United and Gaborone United. Perhaps the only decent thing about the facility is the turf that seems to be regularly maintained.
The sitting arrangements leaves a lot to be desired compared with other facilities in villages like Masunga, Serowe and Molepolole. There are also the changing rooms that look archaic and colonial. With FC Satmos being one of the facility’s biggest clients, the club’s chairman Monnakgotla Mojaki did not want to be drawn into discussing the flaws of the stadium, preferring that such be done with the owners, the town council. Nevertheless, Mojaki said the whole town was worried about the state of the facility, saying “it has been like this for a long time.” The Satmos man who doubles as the premier league vice chairman said it would perhaps be important to meet with council authorities over the matter. “There is nowhere for our clients to sit when we book the facility. How do you go about to the dressing rooms?” Mojaki said they were worried about the situation as a club.
He argued that the only option they had was to develop their own facility but lamented that it was too expensive as evidenced by other football teams having tried and failed. For his part, Selebi Phikwe businessman and political activist, Moeti Mohwasa, said Council has debated the issue of the Phikwe stadium before but nothing has been done to improve the facility. “You can imagine that the stadium serves Phikwe and surrounding villages like Bobonong.” He argued that the Gaborone area is served by many facilities including the National Stadium and the Molepolole Sports Complex.
No council authority was available to talk about the facilty by press time, but the area Member of Parliament Dithapelo Keorapetse said his predecessor, MP Gilson Saleshando asked a question about the stadium in parliament back in 2012. “He asked the Ministry of Infrastructure Science and Technology (MIST) why construction of the Phikwe stadium was halted some two decades before. Saleshando further asked when development of the stadium would resume.
The answer was that the MIST never received any instruction to develop the facility from the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture.” According to Keorapetse, MIST seems to not have been privy to the halting of construction at the mining town stadium at the time. He argued that Council could be provided with funds to improve the facility while another option would be to propose a modern facility like those in Francistown and Lobatse.