A two-day retreat for members of the elected executive and secretariat staff of The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) came to an end on Sunday. The retreat is organised by the European football governing body, through its UEFA Assist programme and was part of a four-day working visit to The Gambia by team of officials from UEFA
The UEFA Assist program was launched in 2017 by its president, Aleksander Ceferin to share the experience and know-how of UEFA and its member associations outside of Europe by offering series of education and knowledge-sharing programmes that focus on two areas of development: operations and football.
The delegation to The Gambia was headed by Eva Pasquir Head of International Relations and also include Marie Clerc, Coordinator of International Relations and Mr. Jonathan Ford, a former General Secretary of the Football Association of Wales (FAW).
At the end of the retreat, the team highlighted what they described as some of the positive impacts of football in The Gambia, which include the substantial improvement of the growth of the game and the stability enjoyed by its leadership since 2016.
The UEFA experts further noted that there is good governance and financial procedures in place and recognised the close working relationship between the Executive Committee and the Secretariat staff, who are the paid employees.
“[There is also] good relationships with key stakeholders (especially when agendas aligned) and the long-term vision/manifesto is in place! We’ve also observed that there is a young and passionate executive who are eager to learn and succeed,” the team observed.
The experts also highlighted the significant strides made by the various categories of our national teams, which includes, but not limited to, our qualification to 2021 AFCON, back-to-back AFCON appearances at U-20 level for the first time in Gambian football and winning the WAFU Cup of Nations twice within that period.
They further noted the clearly defined player pathway of talent, player development with more Gambian players playing professionally, serving as a reflection of our domestic league due to the exponential growth of licensed coaches and the desire to professionalise the clubs and the league.
“I’ve been to many countries and I can tell you that the GFF has very good financial and governance policies. Your statutes are also very good. The objective amongst other things is to ensure a clear responsibility of roles between the elected executive committee and the administrative staff. I [also] want to congratulate you (the GFF) that your Technical Director is a local. Because in most countries, they try to bring expatriate TDs and then in such cases, they don’t stay more than six months. And to achieve your programs, a long-term planning is very important. So once again, congratulations on this,” Ford stated.
Eva Pasquir stated that the election manifesto has very good ideas “so our role is to help you by facilitating the strategy and planning in achieving those goals by sharing our experience and exchange ideas with you. So, we must be competitors on the pitch but colleagues and friends off it.”
Bakary K. Jammeh, the first Vice President of the GFF highlighted the vision of the Executive Committee to create a capable organisation (GFF). He noted that there is the vision and will from the side of the GFF, thus, UEFA is now helping us to realise our vision by drawing up a plan and focusing on the key goals with clear timeliness.
“Capacity building, and development of grassroots & elite football is a key component of our manifesto and we need the right people to implement this. Thus, the presence of the entire ExCo and the SMT here is a clear manifestation of our commitment to deliver. Over the past two days, you’ve been meeting with the various stakeholders on not only what they think about us, but how we should be managing football in The Gambia. So, I enjoined my colleagues to speak up to have a clear understanding of our roles and responsibilities,” Mr. Jammeh remarked. “This retreat is very pertinent to what we want to achieve as a Federation in our vision to develop all aspects of football through our National Football Development Plan culminating into our Contract of Agreed Objectives with FIFA. This could not have come at a better time when we’ve been elected for a new four-year mandate.”