Ahead of the long awaited completion of the construction of the new Francistown Stadium, some sections of the Francistown community are already lobbying relevant authorities to name the stadium after former Botswana XI player and Notwane Football Club manager, Thomas Gaolaolwe “Bra Thos” Chawilane.
Prior to his active participation in the development of Botswana football, Chawilane played in South Africa for great teams like Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs before returning home where he plied his trade with a number of teams before retiring.
After retirement, he continued to participate actively in the management of a number of teams, including Notwane FC, which he at some point managed, and Tafa of which he was still an ardent pioneer of at the time of his death in June 2009.
In Botswana, Bra Thos played alongside the likes of former National Assembly Speaker, Patrick Balopi, George Magole, Shathani Mukoka, Wilson Moeng, Peter Mmopi, Reuben Uyapo Masendu and many others.
The lobby group spokesperson, Moses Magole, strongly believes that it would be in order for the city of Francistown to honour Chawilane in appreciation of the role he played in football as a player, coach and manager.
“It is an honour that befits the role he played in the development of football in this country. We are hopeful that the authorities will consent to our request to have the stadium named after him. We have seen this kind of generosity being extended in other parts of the world, including South Africa, where some stadia have been named after influential role models,” said Magole.
Balopi said once the appropriate channels have been followed, he will readily lend his support to the idea.
“It is a novel idea and I wholeheartedly support it. Chawilane deserves the kind of honour that is being agitated for. I definitely would be happy to support the idea of the new stadium being named in his honour,” said Balopi.
A number of Francistowners who have known Chawilane well are agreed that Chawilane deserves the honour.
Francistown mayor, Shadreck Nyeku, is among the many Francistowners who do not have any problem with the stadium being named after Bra Thos. He, however, said the lobby group has not yet approached him for support and explained that the appropriate authority that they must approach is the District Commissioner’s office.
He explained that names of such important projects are approved by the State Land Acquisition and Allocation Committee after a consultative process with the community.
“The lobby group is free to approach the District Commissioner and put forward their proposal. It would be better for them to do it now before it’s too late because the consultative process on the naming of the new 20 000-seater stadium has not yet commenced,” said Nyeku.
Meanwhile, Nyeku is concerned with the delay in the completion of the project and the attendant cost overruns, saying that the stadium was supposed to have been completed in April 2010.
“In May last year we asked the Minister of Infrastructure for an update on when the project would be completed. We went to site with the minister but we were not given a tentative date of completion. We do not know when it will be completed,” said Nyeku.
He said at the time it was explained that the delay was occasioned by the re-designing of the grandstand.
Efforts to reach the District Commissioner, Cordeliah Mpape, on whether the lobby group had already approached her at the time of going to press were futile.