By Lamin Cham
A secretary general is the life blood of any orgnisation not least a football federation. Get a good SG and have a hassle free, lively and buoyant federation at all times. A bad one could mean catastrophy and mediocrity.
As the Gambia Football Federation appoints a new secretary general or are you among those who prefer calling it General Secretary? in Lamin Jassey, I wish to take you down memory lane to about half a dozen SGs whose character and performance I intend to highlight and ask have they helped or slow progress in Gambian football?
Kebba Yoro Manneh KYM 1988-1992
KYM was an educationist popular with the youths and very good a motivation speaker and teacher. He came to football at a time when there was a deep seated cold war between the forces of Banjul and the provincial boys, the never ending political camps in Gambian football. Even though his administrative skills as youth officer and organizer were excellent, he was always seen by his critics as a provincial boy with inadequate knowledge of the game who would not have got the job had it not been the powerful provincial lobbying backed by top officials in government . However KYM proved to be a master communicator and ever ready mouth piece of the GFA under Babou Cisse and continued to be a vocal analyst and commentator in Gambian sports. He never forgive former sports minster the late Buba Baldeh for dissolving the GFA under him and Cisse, prohetically calling it a bad precedent that may reoccur. How right he was giving the subsequent dissolutions and coup d’état in football. KYM has a huge reservoir of information in his mind and is ever ready to share provided you don’t tantalise or ostracise.
Alasana Gitteh 1993 -1998
Again Gitteh was a popular choise among the provincial stakeholders of the GFA and tried as the Banjul camp did his election was not avoidable and he came on the wave of great expectations. His excellent organizational skills and shrewd acumen in accounting and financial matters made him an asset at the GFA. Gitteh was so down to earth that you will begin to wonder whether he has any serious moments in his life. But the genius and seriousness in Gitteh is unrivaled. No conflict, confusion or misunderstanding remains unresolved under Gittehs watch. Neither was an arithmetic sum. He was a role model when it comes to modesty mixed with assertiveness. However Gitteh was, and is still Mr Busy. His fulltime work then took a toll on his time and some say attention and he willingly accepted or even suggested that some one else, less busy be elected.
Jammeh EK Bojang 1998-2012
In May 1998 following Gittehs giant shoes came the eloquent Jammeh EK Bojang. Again he had to beat off a strong Banjul lobby and candidate n the late MI Kaba Jallow to get the job. JEK was extremely popular among the provincial stakeholders and in no time his articulate and powerful oratory skills marked him out. He had a good inter personal skills but his critics say his attention to details left much to be desired and his outspoken utterance of inconvenient truths even against his seniors often ruffled feathers. He is however a great survivor who became one of the longest, if not the longest to served as SG of Gambian football. He has managed to survived all his contemporaries in football and is now a regional football official.
A highly well composed and respectful Mr Bah came at a time of great tumult in Gambian football in the wake of of Fifa global suspension, alleged age cheating etc. Though he came after the incident and took no part in the commission or omission of duties that led to that, he had to grapple with the contentious aftermaths and his little experience and association with football matters began to show. He was not the public speaker or poetic writer but you cannot miss his good nature and respect for all. He was a good listener and keen to accomplish assignments with cautiousness, afraid of failure and therefore timid to take risks. He was never a darling to his seniors who succeeded his buddies at Football House but he tried to the best of ability to please his superiors and offended no one, not publicly anyway.
A former Administrative secretary at Football House Jassey is on his first week in the job but his history has shown that he will not be the quite type. His long absence from Gambian football will of course mean he must watch his steps and study his surroundings before plunging headlong into muddy waters with his usual overdrive enthusiasm, He gets my best wishes.