Exiled Eritrean players train with Bots club
By Bakang Mhaladi
GABORONE – Three exiled Eritrean players, who refused to board the plane back home after their national team’s match against Botswana in 2015, have started training with local BTC Premiership outfit, TAFIC.
The three hope to land contracts with the Francistown based club, nearly two years after they refused to return home citing political turmoil, as the Horn of Africa country remains unstable.
They were part of a group of ten players who remained behind after the Zebras match and immediately requested asylum and the Botswana government acceded. They stay in Dukwi Refugee Camp, just outside the second city, Francistown.
This week, popular Francistown side, TAFIC spokesperson, Warrant Kolola told a local publication that three players have shown willingness to join, with the new season due to start in August.
The players have been inactive since they went AWOL after their side faced the Zebras at the Francistown Sports Complex in October 2015 .
Kolola said they would see what arrangements are required if they are to sign the trio.
Kolola said the three have been impressive, showing sound technical awareness.
“They have shown good technical skills in training but the problem is we cannot have them come here and return to Dukwi everyday and we have arranged with them to wait until the first team returns (from the off season),” he said.
The players are commuting between Dukwi and Francistown, a distance of 130km, to train with the team. TAFIC gained promotion to Botswana’s top flight this season after two years in the First Division and would be keen to add quality to their side.
The last recognized player to emerge from the Dukwi refugee camp was Somalian, Mohammed Chawila who mesmerized at TAFIC before a big money move to Gaborone giants, Township Rollers marked the end of his promising career.
The Eritrean players’ move comes amid calls from the Botswana government for refugees to return home, particularly to countries where the situation has stabilized.
Botswana houses more than 2,000 refugees with the majority from Namibia, Zimbabwe and the Horn of Africa.