By Lamin Cham
It may sound weird, nonsensical even, but I must confess that I find it hard to suppress this very thought-provoking opinion, or call it a proposal, from an ardent Gambian football observer and a senior friend of mine.
He told me that after following the upheaval in Gambian football since 2012, characterized by conspiracies and betrayals, all embedded in a deep seated infighting for the top jobs in the Gambia Football Federation, he believes that the only way out of this polarised climate in our football is for stakeholders to discard this whole election process and choose an executive from the feuding camps.
According to him, continuing to elect people in the winner-take-all elections will only prolong the rivalry among the fraternity to the detriment of the game. He said for example if the method has been used in the past ,example if the Mustapha Kebbeh camp and that of Momodou Musa had been blended to run Gambian football, the combination of seasoned technical and administrative knowledge and interpersonal skills both teams had to offer would have taken Gambian football to unimaginable heights. He said success would have been possible and instant because what the Kebbeh camp had lacked was abundant in the Momodou Musa Camp and vice versa.
But tragically, according to my senior friend, when Kebbeh won a bruising battle, the other side turned into permanent adversaries never wishing the elected executive, and by extension the country’s football any success.
He observed that if the two had worked together, the monumental mistake that led us to be banned globally would not have happened because someone would have brought the all-important circular from Caf to the attention of the right people for action, or there would have been enough brains to work out the right course of action before it became too late.
Commenting further, my senior friend said the natural fallout from that bitterly fought election meant that the other side felt triumphant from the misfortune of the Kebbeh camp and by extension the country. Instead of uniting to minimise the damage from the administrative lapse and clear the Gambia’s name, some people seized the momentum to further discredit the Kebbeh executive internationally culminating into the collapse of his regime and another Normalization Committee which only extended the enmity.
My senior friend said the subsequent election between the Team-Kaba and the Mbye Bojang Camp only renewed the rivalry which continues until today and will consume the August 18 election too. “So before we miss another opportunity to save Gambian football from this apparent infighting why can’t we sit the Kaba and Sillah camps together and suggest to the stakeholders to pick an executive from them to put an immediate end to the infighting that has crippled Gambian football for six good years now,” he said.
But before parting with my senior friend I asked him who is to blame for all this and he said… “Government interference and the dissolution of the GFA in 2012. That is where you can trace the root cause of this never-ending feud in our game. Since then there has not been any stability in our game and you may add, no good results.” He concluded rather controversially: You see for six years they have been fighting each other in the name of football. If indeed their voracious appetite in getting elected was to advance football, we would have reached the last World Cup in Russia.
But their fight is for the Fifa dollars. That’s why they could afford to build lodges, farms, drive 4x4s and globe throttled to freeze more dollars while Gambian fans are condemned to watching other nations play on their TV screens, Cup of Nations after Cup of Nations and World Cup after World Cup. Just when will it end?”