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Thursday, October 29, 2020

A New Paradigm for Gambian Football

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However, none has obsessed the nation and the international community more than the way the in-fightings in football bodies, particularly The Gambia Football Federation, have done. This is obvious. Football is the most popular sporting discipline in the country. The interest is to the extent that any atom of irregularity attracts a national outcry or even an international one, given our affiliations with such powerful regional and international football governing bodies like Caf and Fifa. This is important, for it keeps position holders on their toes.

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However, when personal interest is put before national interest; when position of power is seen as a source of self aggrandisement; and when persons of influence want to create puppets instead of leaders, the struggle that should otherwise be guided by conscientious decisions will instead be guided by unscrupulous politics. Such was the case at the Gambia Football Association, and the change of name to Gambia Football Federation, for the most past, failed to change intentions. 


Two nomalisation committees have been formed in two years to normalise football in the country. To date, without taking any benefit of doubt from the current leaders, it remains to be seen whether Gambian football is indeed normalised. The shocks of the wider power struggle that plagued football governance are quite terrible. It will probably take time before full recovery is realised. 


There has been so much disappointment in Gambian football.

 Yet, there is so much desire and hope, especially with the victories registered in the junior tournaments at continental and global levels in the past decade. That hope is being gradually dented. We can argue and disagree over whether The Gambia has the right pool of talented footballers for competitive tournaments or whether the team has the required organisation. What we cannot disagree on, really, is that with effective leadership, with an end to gerrymandering at that level, football in the country will go past its current limits. The results of instability at the GFF have been visibly disastrous. For, the gains that have been made in the past years are being eroded. The country has been removed from its improved position, now sitting at the rock bottom spot in world’s football ranking.


Now that signs of stability have emerged with the election of the new leadership, we enjoined all the players to bury the hatchet and put nation before self. The GFF’s appointment of three coaches and a goal keeper trainer for the junior categories are indication that the authorities are ready to pick up the pieces. According to the information published in our Friday March 12 edition, former national team coach, Peter Bonu Johnson, has been put in charge of U-23, while former Real de Banjul coach, Matar Mboge and Omar Sise, the coach of Feni football club in Bangladesh, and have been put in charge of U-17 and U-20, respectively. The position for goalkeeper coach went to another familiar name, Alhagie Marong. In the meantime, Bonu Johnson and Matar Mboge have been assigned to handle the national team’s planned friendly against Mauritania on March 27. 


One can observe that the appointments came about after thoughtful considerations. The men put in charge of the various national teams have time and again proven to be competent. What they need in order to replicate their previous successes or do even more, is our support, from the footballers to the fans. The government should empower them and entertain no political interference in the work of the officials. GFF should move to appoint a substantive holder for the position of the coach of the Scorpions in order for the person to have adequate time to prepare the team before major tournaments. 


If these four categories – the U-17, U-20, U-23, and the Scorpions – work closely and complement each other, there is no doubt that regaining the glory we have registered in football will be an uphill, but doable climb. Yes, it is within our reach.


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