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Alieu Faye: epitome of grassroot development

Sep 2, 2010, 12:43 PM | Article By: Augustine Kanjia

There is no denying that in the history of any country, successive generations must have individuals who serve as pillars of society, talk of the country and, of course, some extraordinary men and women who provide inspiration to young upcoming and promising nationals of the state. Mr Alieu Faye belongs to this category of people.

This great Gambian became a pivot to helping young Gambians to go to overseas to study and play football, which memory lives vividly in his heart. He struggled and got education and did not drop his love for sports thus serving as a coach and lecturer in USA and also back home. This strong man has a lot to share with you in line with his humble beginnings, successes and what he did for Gambian youth and more. Society looks into his achievements.

S&D: What was your early begging like?

Alieu Faye: I was born in a small village called Tujereng in 1944. I was brought to Banjul to go to school in 1947. I went to Albion Primary school for two years and I was promoted to St. Mary's Boys' School and took five years there and was passed for Methodist Boys High School till 1959, my senior year when the Methodist Boys and Methodist Girls merged to form the Gambia High School in 1959 and I happen to be one of the first students.

S&D: How did you fair on in your new school then?

Alieu Faye: I took my GCE O'Levels, I did not pass at that time but fortunately, I was a football player. I was given a four year full scholarship by the NCAA (National Collegiate Alliance Association). During my playing years, I excelled and was fortunate to meet powerful Americans. I won the outstanding Collegiate Athlete of USA award. This award was very important. You are recognized in academic and the athletics too. It's recognition of persons of high performance in academic and athletics; it's recognition of persons who excel in both.

S&D: Did you graduate in America?

Alieu Faye: Oh yes! I graduated with double Degrees, BA in French and BA in Education and a Diploma in Physical Education.

S&D: Then what happened after that, sir?

Alieu Faye: I then returned home in 1974/75 and took up teaching appointment at Gambia High School. I taught French and Physical Education; it was during this time that I initiated the Inter Secondary School Sports between Senegal and The Gambia.

 S&D: Did you get another chance to study further?

Alieu Faye: Indeed! From 1975 to 1977, I returned for my Masters in USA, at the University of Oklahoma in Norman Oklahoma. I came back in 1977 and worked briefly for education and worked for Gambia College in Yundum, lecturing Physical Education and Principles of teaching Physical Education. Then I returned to the States in 1977 and I was employed as a Soccer Coach at a junior College in Oklahoma, called Claremore College thus facilitating my idea of awarding scholarship to soccer players.

S&D: What did the new  job mean for you away from home?       

Alieu Faye: When I got the job, my first priority was to give as many Gambians scholarship as I could. I started with a few and started adding up more and more. After graduation, I realised that I had taken 48 Gambians to play soccer. Presently most of them have finished and are back some are there doing nothing and some are doing fine. Twenty-two were Liberians. Claremore College was later named as Rogers State College. It was in 1984 because of my success with the soccer team with the college that I was offered a coaching position at a higher level college called Wabash College in Crawfordsville Indiana in 1984. During my tenure there, I had also brought twelve Gambian students, only one did not make it among the twelve. Most of these are now in high positions, either here or in the US.

S&D: Do you remember any of those you helped to go to the US on scholarship and how they are fairing on now?

Alieu Faye: My ex-students are; Momodou Musa of FIB, Star Jallow (Abdoulie) of Gamtel, Baboucarr Foon the administrator at Social Security, Latjorr Ndow, a lecturer at the University of The Gambia and there are quite a few in  the US. Badara Taal, a PhD holder in the USA and a lecturer, my best student, James Freeman, in Rhode Island now a professor. Quite a few are in the US doing quite well.

S&D: Let us now talk about football yesterday and today starting from your work with Wabash College in the US

Alieu Faye: I was in Wabash College from 1984 to 2007 coaching soccer and track and field.

Football yesterday and today! In yesterday's football there was more commitment than today's. There is no way you can take a team today to Freetown in a truck and when it gets stuck you ask the players to push. We bought our own playing booths as well.

Today the game has improved. Players are ahead of the coach. Coaches need to train and put the following acronym at the back of their minds. A= Attitude, C= Commitment and E= Effort. The effort comes with coaching. The coach should be well prepared.

S&D: Mr. Faye, have you seen any mistakes in any of the country's national team?

Alieu Faye: I have seen the Under 17 in South America, it was a psychological lost. But coaches will not accept or they do not even know it.

S&D: What do you do with a player who behaves badly?

Alieu Faye: When you see a player insulting and fighting, ask that player may be they have a problem at home. As coaches, we have a share of their problems. They are not committed they don't care, let them tell you and you help them. There is an adage in Latin that says, "Age Quod Agis" meaning 'Whatever you do it well.'

S&D: One may do things well but there would still be challenges, did you have some?

Alieu Faye: Indeed, especially the junior Gambians I carried there. The college expected me to win. We won three consecutive years. They expected us to win with the young Gambian boys. In some cases we would win but the referee will blow against us so much that the spectators shouted 'give the trophy to the referee!'

S&D: Any advise to coaches on a final basis?

Alieu Faye: As a coach, they should scout for good players. Although I had two assistants who were very supportive and they did the scouting for me.

S&D: I wish to thank you for answering to my call to have this interview, may God bless you.

Alieu Faye: My son, you are welcome.