Taxing times at Tafic

Kabelo Dipholo

The Red’s resilience put to the test by Covid-19

Through the course of its 61-year history, Francistown’s ‘slumbering giants’, Tafic Football Club has endured its fair share of trials and tribulations.

For a club formed in 1959 and among the oldest and best supported in local football, Matjimenyenga has achieved precious little success.

Recently, times have been especially tough for the army of Red fans.

Two relegations in five years, 2019’s promotion and this season’s struggles, supporters have certainly experienced a rollercoaster of emotions – admittedly with more downs than ups!

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However, despite a history checkered with disappointments, the one outstanding quality the team posses in abundance is their ability to regroup and bounce back.

Tafic has always found a way to rise from the ashes and show flashes of their premier league credential, if only for the briefest of moments.

It’s this documented resilience that the charismatic club Chairman, Carlos Sebina is counting on as his team face an unfamiliar challenge in the Coronavirus.

Two months without football means the already financially crippled outfit, whose main source of income is generated through the sale of match tickets, are currently in the red.

With 30 registered players relying on monthly salaries for their upkeep, The Reds are literally a charity case.

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“Not really,” argues Sebina.

The Chairman admits that Covid-19 has affected the club, individuals, supporters and other stakeholders, but is optimistic his team will weather the storm and come out on top.

“Our focus is to avoid relegation. The current situation affects almost all the clubs in the league so we have to find a way to deal with it,” a defiant Sebina told Voice Sports this week.

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Sebina insists his faith has been strengthened following the response from the club’s supporters to help players survive this dry season.

“The fans have been very helpful. I don’t think they realise how much their efforts are helping us to stay afloat. They spend over P12, 000 every month to feed our players, that is commendable!”

He described the fan’s food hamper initiative as ‘a saving grace’ for a club that has struggled to secure a sponsor.

“This has allowed players and the technical team to focus on football matters. The physical trainer has been engaging players through social media to ensure they maintain their fitness during lockdown. I’ve also been doing exercises and sharing them through social media to inspire these players. If I can do 10km at home they can do better than me!” laughs Sebina, who certainly looks in better shape than the last time we met!

Sebina stressed the club will also make players a priority with regards to the recent P40, 000 advance from Botswana Football Association (BFA).

The money was availed to premier league teams last week as an advance on their league grants.

“Remember teams last received their grants in December which has affected operations of clubs. We had initially demanded P75, 000 per club but we’ll make do with this. The money will be given to players since they also have bills like rent. It’s not just food they need. Some are on the brink of being evicted by landlords and some have to buy school uniform for their kids,” said Sebina.

Despite the aforementioned challenges, Sebina is adamant Matjimenyenga will once again show their resilience by defeating Covid-19 and ultimately surviving relegation.

Taxing times at Tafic
RESILIENT: Tafic squad

“I call on our supporters to observe social distancing. We want to see them when the league resumes!” he concluded.

With 10 games left to play, The Reds sit precariously placed in 14th position – the final relegation spot.

Level on points with both Morupule Wanderers and Extension Gunners and a point behind Notwane, the fight to avoid the drop is set to go down to the wire – Tafic will need all of their fabled resilience if they are to avoid an immediate return to the First Division and heaping even more heartache on their long suffering supporters.

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