of the highest standing and an impeccable character, the late Alhaji Omar Baru
Sey was an important personality in every sphere of our national development
and a powerful person in the sports industry, football in particular. You can
call him a baron, and a grandee because he was a pioneer, and a nobleman of
aristocratic tendencies in our sport.
The late Sey (1941 – 2018) will forever be remembered in the annals of the history of this country but more so the next two weeks when his name would virtually be on the lips of every football lover in the country as the The Gambia Football Federation prepares to organised a competition in his honour. The tournament will be played between the top eight finishers of the national top flight championship.
Mr. Sey joined his ancestors on a Friday (a widely held belief in Islam as a good day for a Muslim to face the inevitable – death) on 2nd March, 2018 following a long illness that took him to unsuccessful treatment in the United States of America before he finally succumbed to the cold hands of Azrail (the angel of death) at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital.
He was a respected figure in the corridors of power at both FIFA and CAF Houses in Zurich and Cairo respectively. He served in both institutions in various capacities and he may not be in the same standing with the likes of Joao Havalange, Blatter, and Hayatou at global level, Uncle OS is still credited as one of the greatest minds who pulled the strings, mostly behind the scenes and to have led the reshaping and remodeling of world football.
He was a well-respected and adored personality in the global game from the mid-1980s and as a result Mr. Havalenge recommended him to succeed Abdel Halim Muhammad as the President of CAF in 1988 but then a big call came a year before that when he was appointed as the Gambia’s External Affairs Minister by President Jawara, a position he would hold until the 22nd July 1994 coup. This decision would pave the way for his most trusted friend, Issa Hayatou to take over the mantle of leadership in Cairo and the two would remain trusted allies until his death.
At the domestic level, Mr. Sey was the founder Director of the Department of Youth & Sports in 1972 and the President of the then Gambia Football Association who oversaw the country’s first ever triumph at continental level by hosting and winning the 2005 African U-17 Championship in Banjul. Having graduated with a PHD in Political Science from the prestigious Pennsylvania University, he also served as a lecturer at The Gambia College.
It was him and Fisco Conateh who FIFA relied on to fix the problems that were confronting Gambian football in 2012 following the world football governing body’s decision to dissolve the Executive at the time and this ushered in The Gambia Football Federation, laying the foundations at structural level to attain the much talked about decentralisation of the national league, which was finally achieved by the current administration last season.
Described by many as an honest and humble person; a gentleman who loved his country and a pioneer of numerous programmes and policies, especially in the youth and sports sector, the late Mr. Sey is one of the greatest thinkers of our country.
A Diplomat par excellence, one of the Gambia’s most educated and prestigious sons, Omar Baru Sey may be gone, and gone he is indeed forever, but one thing is for certain; his legacy will forever remain and never to be forgotten. He is gone physically but in spirit he remains with us forever, as his disciples can be found in everywhere contributing immensely in all spheres of our national development. He is indeed a true son of the land.