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Kamaso and team next leaders of Gambian football – A commentary by Kabba Ceesay

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The greatest strength of African community lies in its Social Capital, the very glue which holds society together. It is evident that many unemployed youths and youths in the most menial casual employments in many countries in Africa have not progressed in education because of lack of family resources, but who congeal together positively and supportively in a passion for football. Therefore, football is real Social Capital to be harnessed.

Many responsible African football federations used football development projects to harness the social capital, relieving governments’ burden on the youth demography giving them leverage to focus on other important priority areas as most youths will associate themselves with such projects.

When Cape Verde wanted development, the government was convinced by FIFA to restore the national stadium and upgrade their football pitches while FIFA offer them artificial turfs. The project primary objective was centered on one thing basically: youths should not spend too much resources to access a good football pitch. This is one way to harness social capital because it gathers youths in a productive setting.

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Funds from FIFA

According to the world governing body of football, USD 6,000,000 from FIFA funds goes to member association for the four-year cycle to support operational needs and development projects. USD 1,000,000 extra is allocated to members’ associations with an annual revenue of USD 4 million or less to support travel and equipment needs (which the Gambia is entitle to) because our annual revenue in less than USD 4 million. Up to USD 1 million per year for operational/running costs. USD 500,000 release in January each year for day-to-day activities, administration and running costs. Up to USD 500,000 paid in July each year provided that the member association fulfils up to ten specific activities during the year, USD 50,000 per activity.

These activities include: Organising men’s, women’s and youth competitions, having active men’s, women’s and youth national teams, having a functioning and regular updated IT player registration and competition management system, this will be provided free of charge by FIFA if needed and having men’s and women’s refereeing programs.

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Up to USD 200,000 per year for travel and accommodation and up to USD 200,000 per year cycle for football equipment for those member associations needing the most assistance. A member association is identified as needing the most assistance provided that its annual revenue does not exceed USD 4 million (Gambia is entitled to such funds). However, it should be reflected in the annual statutory audit report of previous years and submitted to FIFA by 30th June each year.

Missed-prioritised projects

With all these dollars coming into our game, any responsible federation whose vision is to champion football development would have wisely prioritise our needs to uplift Gambian football with enough football pitches countrywide. Even constructing one stadium every year for eight years could have made a positive difference.

An extra amount of USD 2,000,000 set over the period of the whole 2019-2022 cycle for projects tailored according to the member association’s approved contract of agreed objectives and in particular relating to football infrastructure e.g. pitches, technical centres, training grounds, stadium and headquarters.

Countries such as Liberia, Senegal, Mauritania, Cape de Verde among others has benefited from this opportunity offered by FIFA. Liberia used such funds to construct the Samuel K Doe pitch, the Doris Williams sports pitch and the Tusa field.

Senegalese football has developed over the years because of adequate football pitches all over the country including the Stade Laitjor of Thies where the Gambia played its home game against South Sudan during the AFCON 2023 qualifiers earlier this month.

In 2014 the present Executive came to power and now 8 years on, there is not a single standard infrastructural development for football. There was no Nawettan football for the past three years because of lack of football pitches. Gambian football has been struggling to effectively run its programs because of the lack of standard football stadium in the country.

Football development in the Gambia is suffering, the poor football players are suffering due to

poor management which is having negative impact on the development of the game in Gambia. Poor management here referring to: Corruption, Maladministration and Lack of accountability among others. Corruption in Sports here referred to abuse of public office for private gains. That is; when any official or person or persons use their position of trust in order to gain an undue advantage. Corruption suffocates development and makes processes expensive.

Former Cameroonian goalkeeper Antoine Bell once claimed that 90 out of 100 USD in football disappears in private pockets. In the Gambia a squatting toilet at the Goal Project at Yundum was claimed to be constructed for 33,000 USD.

Leadership is not about the position or the person.

It is a complex moral relationship between people that should be based on trust, obligation, commitment, and a shared vision of good. If this complex relationship between members are misguided because of lack of trust and empowerment, the commitment from members to deliver the shared vision of good will be tarnish.

Mr. Kamaso and other executive members who were part of the leadership of the federation has decided to quit because of lack of trust and empowerment. I honestly cannot remember meeting with Mr. Kamaso in person but a fruitful lengthy conversation I had with him, convinced me that he is a better choice to that of the incumbent.

Therefore, I would like to seize this opportunity to endorse Mr. Kamaso and his team to become the next leaders of the Gambia Football Federation.

Note:  the author is a football consultant

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