By Lamin Cham
We have said it over and over again over the years since the tourney was introduced that the Super Nawettan is too good to be rushed or treated like an entertainment circus that comes and go each year. It is the pinnacle of success in all Gambian football programme. You can’t resist or beat the feeling of the ecstatic atmosphere generated by it. From Amadalalye, on the North Bank to Kalagi on the South Bank and Gunjur at the western tip, the Super Nawettan fever gripped the nation and brought it to a standstill at least on two occasions as people held their breath to know the results. Now it is time to draw lessons from it.
The just ended edition proved the direction of our football needs to be changed to keep the Super nawettan types of crowd and fanfare. Apparently even international marches involving the Scorpions have now been dwarfed by the great enthusiasm generated by the Super Nawettan. The crowd that turned up the final Saturday was a record. Beyond the all night party in Sukuta on Saturday and the sight of dejected fans crossing back to the Niumis the same day, stands the general and wide spread full realization and satisfaction that Super Nawettan is unrivaled in terms of excitement, emotional and passionate connection of Gambians to football.
Yet for some reasons successive Gambia football administrators and sports Ministers have failed to muster the courage and boldness to scrapped the current form of the league and formulate it along Super Nawettan lines, with football clubs formed by or identified with communities. But hold on a minute, even this may not be enough to get the super nawettan style of crowds because Brikama United, Bakau United or Steve Biko could claim to fit this criteria but a Brikama Nawetan crowd is always bigger than a Brikama United league match at the Box Bar. Same goes for a Bakau Nawettan match which out numbers a Steve Biko league match.
So is there any guarantee that when clubs are formed along communities they will pool similar crowds as Sukuta and BEM did on Saturday? What we need to study is what made nawetans everybody’s interest greater than even the national team?
The reason may be that Nawettans ignite deeper connection between the masses and football than any other tournament or league can. It is therefore prudent and sensible for football authorities to make good use of the Nawettans to develop a sustainable national football promagramme around it that will maintain this huge attraction. The Super Nawettan provide such a tool but it is always too hastily arranged and rushed with crowded fixtures and little time for recovery for technicians and players. The authorities seem to reduce it to just a mere entertainment while the league which no one watches remain the key programme.
Until we have sports administrators both at Football House and MoYs who will be bold to enough to carry out drastic changes the benefits of the super nawettan to football development will be not be fully harnessed. In conclusion let me extend a big congratulations to Sukuta for their resilience and commitment. To the organisers, bravo it turned out to be a successful tourney despite the initial hitches and mistakes. And to the sponsor Fibank money well spent and thank you for supporting national development.