The chairman of the Francistown Regional Football Association (FRAFA) is hopeful that teams from the north will soon return to the Premier League following the relegation of TAFIC FC. The City of Francistown has no representation in the BTC Premiership after TAFIC lasted only one season in their uninspired campaign during the 2017/18 season.
The Francistown region has proven to be one of the most lucrative football markets in the country as the Francistown Sports complex has since hosted top tier football matches including Afcon qualifiers and numerous Mascom Top 8 final games. The games saw a decent number of supporters filling up seats at the Stadium facility located in Madzibalori.
However, the Francistown football loving crowd have hardly shown the same affection and enthusiasm to their own TAFIC when it plays at the same venue. According to FRAFA chairman Maokaneng Bontshetse, the impressive numbers that attend games at the stadium are a result of strategic planning by Francistown City Authorities.
“Before the games we meet with the Francistown Mayor, Silvia Muzila and other city officials. Everybody comes together and plan for the big games like the Zebras and Mascom Top 8 final.” From her end, the Francistown City mayor Silvia Muzila ensures that children from primary to secondary school inform their parents of the big game happening in town so that they attend in numbers.
Bontshetse said they mobilize their local football clubs to ensure that they fill the stadium during match day because this is the biggest form of entertainment in the city. The FRAFA chairman said the city pulls together for high profile games but the only problem is showing support to a local team like TAFIC when it competes in the Botswana Premier League.
Bontshetse said TAFIC who were relegated to the Debswana National First Division (DNFD) this past season lost their investor when they made it to the Premier League hence their struggles after they left the lower division. “However, I don’t think TAFIC did enough to acquire resources once they got to the Premier League, even consulting us, it was not enough, if you want to survive you do more than it is expected,” he said.
Bontshetse argued that it will be difficult to emulate other regions like Jwaneng and Orapa in combining their resources and establishing one powerful club. The FRAFA chairman said his region is too vast and populated to emulate the likes of Jwaneng and Orapa.
“This time around if another FRAFA team makes it to the premier league, this one will be our regional challenge, we will sit down with the mayor and pull our resources together. Our region is not only Francistown, it includes Masunga, Tonota these are things that help us increase numbers this is the only form of entertainment in the area.” Bontshetse said FRAFA teams must do a lot of work to ensure that they sell themselves in large villages like Masunga.
“I don’t understand why they don’t have a supporter’s branch in Masunga, they feel that Francistown is their only base.“Remember, I am the founding chairman of the Zebras supporters club, I knew that Gaborone cannot make the national team big, I had Tlokweng and mobilized other villages. When they attended games, they made it big.”
Bontshetse said the stadium facility is currently underutilized but they are hoping to have at least one team in the premier league next season. “We are doing well at regional level, for the past two years we put a team in the first Division while the other four regions are failing to do so. This should continue to premier league.”