It is this time of the year when all roads lead to the North for the festive season football spectacular starting on the Christmas day and ending on the New Year Day.
The annual John Nswazwi Memorial Tournament has come round again, this promising to be bigger and better, according to its organisers.
Touted as the cr├¿me de la cr├¿me of festive season tournaments in the north east of Botswana by its founders, this sports festival is meant to honour Chief John Madawu Nswazwi of Bakalanga Baka Nswazwi.
Ten teams from the villages of Nswazwi, Makuta and Goshwe will be divided into two pools with only two teams slated to qualify for the semi-finals.
The final will be played on the New Year’s Day. The tournament is expected to attract thousands of supporters from these villages and sport revellers coming from all parts of Botswana.
John Nswazwi Memorial Tournament Executive Chairman, Wabo Bungile, said this year’s tournament has a lot to offer.
“People should come in great numbers. This is a big tournament and it will remain a big tournament. This year we are full of surprises…The tournament will be entertaining,” said Bungile.
John Nswazwi is also one of the oldest tournaments in the North East region having twenty one years of existence. However the tournament has not been attracting enough sponsorship over the years.
The tournament Chairman said sponsors have been overlooking the tournament because it is not registered as a society. He said in most cases no one in the corporate society would want to associate him or herself with something without a clear identity.
Turning the tournament into a well branded professional entity is a mammoth task for Bungile and his executive committee.
He said they are aiming to profile, make a constitution and register this tournament at the register of societies.
Bungile said by June next year all these will have been completed. Bungile who assumed the chairman’s role in September said the budget of this tournament is around P40 000.
He said the tournament, bringing people of Nswazwi villages together, will instil harmony among them.
“The tournament has also kept the youth very busy and away from alcohol and crime during the festive season,” said Bungile.
The John Nswazwi Memorial Tournament has unearthed talented players like Themba Ketshabile and Pasi Chakalisa. The Goshwe duo has played for Police XI and national Under 20.
Cutting into another slice of history of this tournament, many would remember Tafic dangerman Mareko Pabalelo who played for Makuta Spring Vultures between 1992 and 1997.
Thatayaone ‘Sunday’ Ramosetheng remains a veteran player in this tournament and will be playing. He has played for over over 15 years in this tournament.
Ramosetheng has plied his trade with BDF XI, Naughty Boys and Mogoditshane Fighters. The sensational and skilful Notwane and Under 20 international forward Langa Mabule is always a player to watch in this tournament.
Teams from all divisions and the elite Botswana Premier league are encouraged to come for scouting by the organisers. Nswazwi is the Kalanga chief known to many in history for being involved in a tribal tension with one of the powerful Chiefs or regents in history of colonialism, Tshekedi Khama.
This resulted in him (Nswazwi) being exiled to Mafikeng in 1947 by the colonial government. After his release from exile Chief Nswazwi then went to live in Rhodesia (modern day Zimbabwe). He died there and was buried in a place called Jetjeni. Nswazwi’s remains were taken back to Botswana in 2002.
After that President Ian Khama called on those Kalanga who went exile with their chief to “come back home.” Those people are now a part of Nswazwi people in Botswana.