On the 14th of this month of May 2022, Nico United Sporting Club made its long-awaited promotion to the Botswana Premier League (BPL).
A goalless draw away to Maun Terrors on the day, as well as second placed Eleven Angels’ 0 – 1 slip away to Chadibe Football Club all but ensured Majombolo a safe passage back to the elite league.
The promotion came exactly five years and a day since the team was relegated from the elite league. For the residents of Selebi-Phikwe, the team’s return to the elite league was welcomed by song and dance.
In fact, this past Sunday when the team affectionately known as Baby Jombies arrived in Phikwe from Maun, a motorcade was held to welcome it.
Not without reason! For the once vivacious copper and nickel mining town fallen now almost turned Ghost town, the return of Nico United to the elite league means more than just football.
“The mood around Phikwe has been very high since Saturday,” Nico United’s public relations officer (PRO) Ntibi Kedikilwe says. “This means more for them,” he says.
Since the closure of the BCL mine, the town of Phikwe has been left desolate. Now, Majombolo’s promotions back to the Premier League brings back some measure of hope for the residents of this former mining town.
“We all expect the return of Nico United to the Premier League to boost sports tourism in our town. the trickle effect of this will be felt in the town’s hospitality industry as well as the small vendors,” Kedikilwe opines.
The Nico United PRO’s optimism, and may be that of all the Phikwe residents, stems from the prospects of hosting high profile matches against Premier League teams which bring with them multitudes of supporters.
And this, he says, is reflected in how residents and the town leadership have been supportive of the team. Where two or three seasons ago support was at a premium, the goodwill has been great for Nico this season.
“During the previous Covid-19 hit season when we finished second and other seasons prior, there was not much support for the team. This season however, the support has been massive,” Kedikilwe reflects.
“We have had a lot of goodwill from the residents. For the first time, the team merchandise has been selling very well. Even people who were not massive fans of football have pitched in to help whichever way they could,” he adds.
At the highest level, Kedikilwe says they have had well needed support from the Town council leadership. “Whenever possible, the Town Council lent us some of its buses to ferry us to away matches. They have also allowed us to use the stadium for free,” he explains.
Now while the champagne is flowing though, the team is aware there is a lot that needs to be done to get the team ready for the big league and ensure it can survive and thrive.
“We have to prepare now. We know that if we prepare well now, we will be able to cope with the rigours of the elite league,” the Nico United PRO concludes.