Unearthing New National Stars: GFF Visits Schools to Screen U-17 Players

Friday, July 12, 2019

Mandated by its electorate to promote and develop football in the country, especially at the grassroots, the national game over the last five years has registered unprecedented strides in that regard. There are structures put in place at every nook and cranny of The Gambia to serve as a catalyst for sustainable development.

The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) under the leadership of Lamin Kaba Bajo has identified grassroots football as one of the most critical components of its latest four-year National Football Development Plan (NFDP). This is aimed at ensuring that players that would represent the country at both national and international competitions in our various teams, especially the age category competitions, are within the right age bracket. Thus, it is now a policy that players forming the U-17 teams would be scouted from the schools instead of the previously practiced domestic leagues.

It is against this backdrop that the Federation, through the National Teams Department, this week began a national screening process dubbed the youth scouting and talent search for both our men and women’s U-17 teams underway at the National Technical Training Centre in Old Yundum. Forty school going boys and girls within the aforesaid age bracket are invited for the trials in both categories from which 25 would be selected to form the new crop of players for the team.

Speaking in an interview with www.gambiaff.org on the sidelines of the screening process yesterday, Abdoulie Bojang the National U-17 Head Coach said the players were scouted at the 2019 inter-school football competition organised by the GFF. He noted further that the players were scouted from both the junior and senior secondary schools’ categories and at the end of the exercise, those that made the cut would continue preparations for upcoming national engagements.

“We have two proposed international football friendlies against Guinea Bissau slated for the 25th and 27th July at the Independence Stadium in Bakau and the selected players would participate in those games after which we will continue preparations for the next U-17 qualifiers beginning in 2020,” Mr. Bojang, a former National Team midfield enforcer said.

“The intention is to put up a strong U-17 national team to train and prepare them tactically and expose them before they graduate to other categories and at elite level. As of now, we are not expecting any international [foreign based] player for this category; we are now focused on the home based players and we trust that they can deliver to expectations with proper molding.”