By Lamin Cham
The unprecedented 10- 1 aggregate score line which separated Cameroon and The Gambia in the recently concluded African women’s cup of nations qualifying tie speaks volume of the development level of our female football and that of the Central African nation. While we can argue that Cameroon is a much more established footballing nation than The Gambia, it must also be admitted that we should have done better than this. The first leg in Cameroon was almost a stroll in the park for the Lioness. A complete domination and annihilation of a hapless opposition.
The organisation alone is miles apart from each other talk less of the technical quality. I say yes The Gambia should have done better because truth be told, the current football federation has invested huge resources and attention to the development of women football in the country. From collaborating with and implementing Fifa women football programmes, (the so-called Girls festival), to the provision through the Olympic Committee of a renown women football expert Monica Saab(now appointed coach of Saudi Arabia), the GFF has popularised, supported and promoted women football . The GFF president Lamin Kaba Bajo has made women football development his personal baby in the federation’s strategic plans. A full-fledged women football department is up and running fully funded by Fifa and other sources. Generally, any shortcomings in the development of women football cannot be blame on lack of attention.
So even in any modest way, our female footballers should by now show class and respectability even if results are not impressive. Yes the Under- 17 and even the senior female team have recorded strong performances in qualifiers eliminating- Burkina and Sierra Leone, but in sports, your past glory is momentarily forgotten when you lose the contest that matters on the day. Coming close to qualifying to our first top continental women football tourney was a great feeling. And so it was disheartening to see us bow out in the manner we did. It only brings back memories of our debut in the Fifa women Under -17 debacle in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2012. While it was a solid achievement to qualify in the first place, our tournament performance made the world forget that.
Beaten 11-0 in our Group B opener by Korea DPR, we subsequently had our hopes of survival extinguished when we went down 6-0 to the USA and lost our final game against France by 10-2 at Baku’s Delga Arena. All together we carried 27 goals to our flight back adding to the payload of the plane from Baku. One would have thought that ten years on, we would be at a very advance level in women football.
Having said that though, we must respect and appreciate the resilience, dutiful and diligent work of Coach Mariama Bom Sowe and Aboulie Bojang among others. With more had work and enthusiasm and honest self-assessment we can get to the level we all desire. Bravo Queen Scorpions, better luck next time.