A British media report this week confirmed that the Bristol City tour of Botswana which was moved from last year because of the unavailability of the National Stadium will eventually take place later this year.
According to a report in the Bristol Post this Monday, the League One club and its Community Trust will descend on Botswana for a pre-season tour in July. In England, League One is a third tier in that country’s football league structure after the Premier League and the second tier known as the Football League Championship.
In what will be called The Friendship Cup, the British side is expected to play two premier league sides at the National Stadium although it has not been confirmed which local teams will be involved. Several of Bristol City’s supporters are expected to accompany the club on the tour that will also see the team embark on a training camp in Rustenburg, South Africa before coming into Botswana for the mini tournament. While in the country, the club players and staff are also expected to engage in community work
“This will be a great honour for the club. Although one of the smaller African football nations, Botswana is fanatical about the game. Bristol City will become the first British team to visit the country, so this will be another step in Botswana’s progression,” the club’s majority shareholder Steve Lansdown was quoted by the Bristol publication.
He added: “I have been going to Botswana for over five years now and it is a wonderful place to visit. For the players, management and supporters who make the trip I can assure them they will have a great time and be made very welcome. The work carried out by the Community Trust in the summer touched many lives and, with the players and management staff travelling this time around, there is so much potential to enhance this positive feeling.”
Last year, five representatives of the club’s Community Trust visited Botswana for a week, with a project that visits to the SOS Children’s Village, the Mochudi Centre for the Blind and other local schools and clubs. Their visit this year, which will see their numbers go up to fifty or more, is intended to further strengthen the community ties they established then. The media reports also say Roy Blackbeard, Botswana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, visited the club’s stadium, Ashton Gate, to tour the venue and inform himself further about the trip.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for any young man or woman to go on a trip of this kind. All we ever really discover is our own country and where we go on holiday. This is a fantastic, truly unique pre-season trip to a country in Africa that many wouldn’t ever get the chance to visit. This will be a different experience for the players to pre-season tours they’ve been used to and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it,” the club’s gaffer, Steve Cotterill said.
Currently, Bristol City are placed 22nd on the League One that has 24 clubs. Although they have been doing well lately and looking to rise, they still are well within the relegation zone as teams placed 21 to 24 relegate to the fourth tier. It will be the first time a British Club comes to play in Botswana.