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Saturday, December 4, 2021

The silver lining of Covid-19 on our football

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This year, like most part of the world, football in The Gambia will not be as before. The national football league has been cancelled with no promotion or demotion; the famous and biggest football jamboree, the Super Nawettan will also not take place and already some Nawettan Zones have announced that there will be no summer football in their zones. Others are expected to follow suit with Covid-19 restrictions still in place.

In the international front, the remainder of the qualifiers for the AFCON, now happening in 2022 will not happen any time soon and so international football nights at the stadium will not be available in the near future. The local football scene suddenly looked gloomy and depressing at least for this year.

But like in every dark episode, a silver lining came to shine over the hopeless situation. The world football governing body Fifa and the African football body Caf both came with unprecedented financial assistance totaling D90million.

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Of this money, D25million is specifically provided for female football alone. The Gambia Football Federation has said it will hold an AGM for the stakeholders to decide the fate of the money.The AGM was initially slated for this Saturday but it has now been postponed.

At the AGM, the Gambian football fraternity will decide how the money should be spent, to, as Fifa wants it, help the football stakeholders survive the financial and logistical difficulties brought about by the restrictions on gatherings because of the pandemic.

In our view this is a rare and lifetime opportunity for the ever financially constrained clubs, allied associations and regional football bodies to get a decent budget to enhance their programmes and activities. We urge the GFF therefore, to, as they have promised, allow the stakeholders to make their own decision as this is a rare opportunity that must not be wasted. Already the women football stakeholders have made their own proposals and similar position is being taken by the other members of football.The GFF must ensure that its members have direct benefits from these funds and significant enough to cushion their financial burden for some time.

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In the same vein, the clubs and other members must use these funds judiciously and transparently for the benefit of their players as well as make provision for the acquisition of much needed materials and training. Clubs and other officials must demonstrate honesty and accountability to both the GFF and their own associations and clubs. If spent wisely the money can keep the clubs and associations financially afloat for a long time and at the same time enhance their activities. While not trying to influence the members of the football fraternal, we recommend that each club, allied association and regional association sholud receive a cool one million dalasis. Fair enough.

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