By Ole Pamer
Sixteen years ago, Tijan Jaiteh won the league in his debut season for SK Brann of Bergen City. Last month he returned to Bergen to make sure his success story can be repeated.
Works for cooperation
In his native Gambia, Tijan leads a football academy and has travelled to Bergen to present his project to his former professional club with a view to establishing a cooperation.
“I believe Brann would benefit from inviting some of our talents from the academy.This is about giving hope and opportunities to young Gambians”, he said.
Tijan predicted and hope that some of the young Gambian talents back home are good enough to repeat his European success – if not perform even better than he did himself. Jaiteh played most of his professional games in Norway, but later moved on to Denmark, Israel, Finland and Saudi Arabia.
Needs to be evaluated
Aksel Bergo, the SK Brann Academy director said Jaiteh’s project has attracted the club’s interest.
“He has implemented a fantastic project and this absolutely something we need to have a closer look at, and study it carefully,”Bergo said.
He added that Brann needs to carry through a thorough evaluation of the project and that the club needs to investigate if Brann has the resources to establish a cooperation with the Gambian Academy. ”Furthermore, they must find out if Jaiteh’s players have the potential to become professional Brann players. This would require us to travel to The Gambia and evaluate the level of his aspiring players,” Bergo added.
The academy director further revealed that the two academies are not in a formal state of cooperation
‘however, we need to find out if we are capable of carrying through such a cooperation project with the quality Jaiteh and his players deserve.’
Norway Cup success
Jaiteh’s academy’s success has already reached the headlines in Norway when his U16 boys won the Norway Cup last summer . The Gambian team were utterly impressive, and with Jaiteh as their sideline coach, they easily won the tournament and didn’t even concede a single goal before the final.
“This goes to show that Gambian players can deliver if they get opportunities,” Jaiteh said .
He added that most of the Gambians in his academy come from poor families and he himself provided financial help from sponsors to cover their expenses.
The 34 year- old said he is proud to be able to give Gambian youth opportunities.
‘’This means the world to them and their families,” the former midfielder said reminding Norway of the time he himself got the opportunity to play in Europe. “Bergen is my second home. It is fantastic to be back,” a smiling Tijan Jaiteh said.
The November cold forces the former Brann player to wear three jackets. The contrast to his homeland could hardly be sharper.
Tijan first came to Brann at age 18 and after impressing on trial in Brann, he got a professional contract. Now sixteen years later he hopes to establish a new link with his former club. He describes this possibility as one of mutual benefit to both parties. ”I believe it would be a fantastic project both for Brann and the Gambian youth,” Jaiteh said.