Football infrastructure in the country is grossly inadequate and highly underdeveloped. Quality infrastructure improves performance and competition leading to the production of more quality players and teams which is sine-qua-non in ensuring the overall development of the game.
It is against this backdrop that the Federation committed itself into developing and improving on the existing football infrastructure in every region of the country as enshrined in our National Football Development Plan (2019 – 2022). It is our desire not to only develop the infrastructure but to ensure it is in line with modern football facilities that are capable of hosting both local and international matches.
In 2016, through the Contract of Agreed Objectives, with the world football governing body, FIFA, approved the GFF’s desire to use part of its Development Support of USD2,000,000 (two Million US Dollars per cycle of 4 Years) to develop the football infrastructure in The Gambia in phases. In this regard, the GFF in its Infrastructure development plan wishes to partner with FIFA, Government of The Gambia, Local Government Authorities and Private Developers to improve the standards of our football parks.
The Gambia Football Federation would like to categorically state that approval of these projects do not mean that the whole amounts approved/allocated to it was accessed and disbursed to us.
The information below regarding the state of the projects currently being implemented by the GFF will shed further lights on the matter:
As stipulated in the table the GFF is currently engaged in the following Infrastructure works:
· New Construction – (Gunjur, Busumbala, Old Yundum and Bakau), the first phase entails the construction of modern grass football pitches with perimeter fences to be followed by pavilions in the second phase.
· Lights – (Banjul, Brikama, Serrekunda East and Serrekunda West), provision of lights to enable GFF to play league matches at night in these parks.
· Swimming Pool at the Football Hotel in Old Yundum, to enable the Football Hotel to attain 3-star status.
· Pavilion at Soma Field
· 05 New grounds upcountry
· Refurbishment of existing grounds – (Banjul, Brikama, Manjai, Serrekunda East and Serrekunda West), fitting of two New artificial turfs in Banjul and Brikama, reconstruction of the grass pitches in Manjai, Serrekunda East and Serrekunda west. Reconstruction of perimeter fences and dressing rooms of all the 5 parks.
All above works are approved by FIFA and the monies received and spent are clearly stated in the table above. It can be seen that GFF is yet to receive any money for Item No: 6 Refurbishment of existing grounds (Banjul, Brikama, Manjai, Serrekunda East and Serrekunda West) works estimated at USD1,200,000. The works done so far, plus payments to the consultants, and the procurement of two new sets of Artificial Turfs for Brikama and Banjul were paid from the GFF Covid Fund and GFF Prefinancing from our operational support and short-term Bank Loans.
In light of the above, it is unfortunate and misleading for anyone to claim that millions of project monies went missing at Football House. The GFF is on record in the various media outlets through its competent authorities for making clarifications and shedding light on the state of the said projects, which we thought would have cleared anyone’s doubts about them. We would like to happily state that not at anytime did a single dime, either from FIFA or any of our partners has ever gone missing at the GFF since the current leadership ascend to the leadership of Gambian football. This has been proven in the numerous audit exercises that the federation undergo annually (three audits exercise by External auditors: two for FIFA Funds and one for the general audit).
However, the recent video documentary by Citizen’s Network Gambia (CNG)titled: “The GFF and the Missing FIFA Millions” is misleading and far from the reality. Prior to the publication of this documentary, the FIFA Development Manager for Africa Mr. Solomon Mudege, on the 24th September, 2021, visited Football House for bilateral talks as well as to check the progress on the ongoing works. He expressed satisfaction with the progress, thus, unlocking the doors for us to access another stage of the disbursement of the funds. His visit will be followed by another visit by officials of the FIFA Dakar regional office in the coming days.
In conclusion, we are delighted to inform the stakeholders and the public that currently, the new artificial turfs purchased for Banjul is at the Ports going through clearance whilst the one for the Brikama mini stadium was received months ago and awaiting installation after the completion of the civil works.
Elsewhere, the ongoing works in Banjul, Serrekunda East and Brikama are scheduled to resume on Monday 11th October 2021 following payments to the contractors last week. The continuation of works in Gunjur and Bakau as well as the Football Hotel swimming pool and all other existing works will begin in November of this year upon receipt of the relevant funds from FIFA.
In the meantime, works in Manjai and Serekunda West will remain suspended to allow us concentrate on the afore-mentioned grounds in preparations for the upcoming GFF League Season.
We convey our apologies to the stakeholders and the beneficiary communities for the inconvenience caused and thanking them for their patience and understanding during this difficult period.