Sometimes, what appears to be an end of a road is actually the beginning of a new road. And when you get to what seems to be the end of a road but you can’t find a new road, you build one. What we see as an ending may be painful or disappointing, but if we focus on the new beginning, the dawn of a new road will always prevail over any darkness encountered on the old road. That’s because beginnings are liberating.
Beginnings are exciting. Beginnings mean opportunities. The quarter final exit of the Scorpions is not the end of the road, it’s the beginning of a new road. A new road, full of opportunities beginning with building on the foundation of the team. This is a new dawn for the Scorpions and if what built this team is not drastically altered, better days lay ahead.
I am not an expert at anything and my knowledge of the intricacies of football is very limited compared to the many experts that abound in The Gambia. Allow me to pivot here but doesn’t that make you wonder where the expertise goes when it’s time to act on our football “knowledge.” I guess like many things, our expertise is mostly theoretical and we suck when asked to put theory into practice. But back to my theoretical “analysis”.
I’ve taught classes on leadership and the essentials of team work to various organizations in different countries on different continents (yeah I’m bragging in case you haven’t noticed). Given my background, knowledge and experience, I want to think that I can recognize effective leadership as well as effective teamwork when I see one. And if you asked me about the success of the Scorpions, I would tell you that their success is because they have effective leadership and they played for each other as teammates. These are not qualities you will find in many, if any, public endeavor Gambians participate in. For many of our activities, we angle ourselves to stand out and soak in the attention and if we don’t get the desired attention, we torpedo the team. Hard pill to swallow but a lot of us are prima-donnas, intellectually lazy and with little substance but want to be recognized as the best since Dukula! That is why you will hardly ever see a successful Gambian initiated project if it’s managed or run by Gambians.
It’s not because Gambians are stupid, it’s because as a people with a jacked up value system, our tendency to be dictatorial, to take credit for everything, to get attention, to want to destroy others, to politicize for the benefit of our political godfathers, to lie for no apparent reason, to tribalize and exclude, to be the only ones to shine, to tolerate from our friends what’s bad for the nation, to incubate grudges, to be egotistical, to think we have a bigger stake than others in public affairs, to think only those in Gambia should be considered, to think we care any more than the others and our tendency to only fix when it’s already in waste are some of the factors that destroy anything us Gambians initiate.
If you observed the Scorpions, even where our individual Gambian tendencies mentioned above tried to rear their ugly heads, it was handled effectively by the team. What enabled this Scorpions team to reach the heights they did is effective leadership and effective teamwork. What will stagnate their growth is when we they lose those two qualities and allow the Gambian tendencies highlighted above to take root.
Cameroon is and must never be an end. It can be the beginning of a wonderful journey. Gambians love their football. Our inability to shine on the international has very little to do with the size of the colonial space allocated to us especially given how passionate we are about football. I join everyone in congratulating the team, the management and the entire country. I look forward to the dancing of my brother in his haftan and turban as he welcomes the team home. Despair not for this is a new road. And to that I say here’s to new beginnings!