Rescue flight

Kabelo Dipholo
DESPERATE TO GIVE BACK: Morapedi leaping to Tafic's rescue hopes to do the same for Francistown

Tafic lead campaign to save F/town’s economy

At a time when everyone including the government, is talking #PushaBW to encourage citizens to be biased towards locally made products and citizen-owned businesses, Francistown’s biggest football club Tafic, has gone one better.

Matjimenyanga is in the process of launching a campaign that they hope will revolutionise trade and help to resuscitate the second city’s ailing economy. Lead by the club’s captain and veteran keeper, Abedinico Morapedi, the ‘Francistown First’ campaign is expected to bring excitement, hope and galvanise business in and around Ghetto.

In an interview with Voice Sport on Wednesday morning, Morapedi, who joined the reds in 2009 said realising the despair in the city following the collapse of many businesses, they took it upon themselves to give Francistown business owners a much-needed lift in their hour of need.

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Morapedi played for Tafic from 2009 until 2012 before leaving for Police XI from 2013-15.

The agile shot-stopper returned to the Reds in 2016, and has been manning the posts ever since.

“We used to bring joy to our supporters here. Through football, most businesses thrived, and a year without the beautiful game has not just taken a toll on us as players, but on entrepreneurs, both big and small,” said Tafic’s longest-serving player.

“We can still play an important role even without football. Our intention is to encourage Francistowners to support each other. Buy Francistown. Spend your money here, Francistown first,” added Morapedi.

The goalminder said the campaign is both important to the businesses and the future of football in he country’s second larges city.

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“Some of these businesses have supported football for so many years, and it’s in our interest to ensure that they remain operational in order to keep giving to the beautiful game,” he said.

Morapedi said Covid-19 stands no chance if people make deliberate efforts to ensure that no business goes under.

“Francistowners and indeed people in the North East have always been pragmatic. We need to communicate this in simple terms: let’s order our bread, river sand, roofing materials and clothes from businesses here. Everything we need is right in this city and its surrounding villages,” he said.

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Morapedi also took a moment to congratulate Botswana Football Association (BFA) President McLean Letshwiti’s ascendency to CAF’s Executive Committee.

“It gives us hope as footballers to see our leaders taking up roles in the region’s governing bodies. Our hope is for other football clubs to take a leaf from Tafic and encourage their supporters to actively participate in uplifting our business owners in these challenging times,” said Morapedi.

Chutney Restaurant owner Sridharan Gopalakrishnan, whose business shut down last Novembe,r welcomed the initiative.

“It might be a little late for my business, but it is a very good idea that could save some businesses from suffering the same fate. I had to close my business and now I don’t even have funds to re-open,” said Gopalakrishnan.

The businessman, who also has branches in Maun and Gaborone, said if Francistowners actively and zealously support local businesses, a lot can be salvaged.

“My fear is with this increasing positive Covid cases, we might be looking at another lockdown,” he said.

Another business owner, Titose Thipe, whose company Titose Thipe Aggregates is based in Sebina described the ‘Francistown First’ drive as exciting.

“This is localised marketing at its best. It’ll stimulate the business sector in Francistown,” predicted an optimistic Thipe.

The go-to man for all sand types and aggregates told Voice Sport that football is the perfect medium to ignite a spark and get people believing again.

“With football you can’t go wrong. Tafic has a large following, they have that pull factor that is needed right now. I fully support this initiative,” declared Thipe.

Sharing the same sentiments was Kaone Bula of Chidzanani Pharmacy. Bula said the Tafic campaign couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

“This is indeed exciting. At Chidzanani we’re very much interested in supporting the Francitown brand,” he declared.

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For his remarks, Tafic Chairperson, Tebogo Toteng urged the club’s supporters and all football lovers to rally behind the players as they embark on an ambitious campaign of bringing people together and save a sinking economy.

“Everyone should play their part in their own little corner. It’s about time, Francistown first!” said Toteng.

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