From the record books, FOOTBALL has come a long way since its first laws were drawn up in London in the year 1863. The English who handed the world this very beautiful game, drew the lines on the pitch, made the laws, showed us rules backing competitions and different ways of organising competitions and other related activities to suit ones need before it was rubber stamped and strengthened by the world, hence the creation of IFAB ( International Football Association Board in the UK ) which later necessitated the emergence of FIFA in 1904 in Paris thus further making series of amendments and not only making the game phenomenally popular but also promoting robust, good governance and programme management - For The Good Of The Game. Then there were the mushrooming “Regional Governing Bodies and affiliated National Football Associations” across the globe, who galvanised and consolidated the course.
Football now is a global industry worth billions. It’s no more only a joke. It’s about putting in and taking out. Therefore the recent change of guards at the helm of our Football Federation hence the dissolution of the former executive and the creation of a new constitution in trials, will be meaningless to the expense of all if unhelpful behaviours and attitudes are not changed. I do not intend to scratch old wounds but lets together clean up the cobwebs in a decent, rational order for the common good of the game.
Sports in itself is so supreme that it also calls for setting standards and good examples in the spirit of fair play. There is no point pretending otherwise. Discrimination in any form will cripple all efforts to the detriment of the innocent football fanatic.
Failing to expose those bringing our football into disrepute; cultivating this mentality of bringing down a rising individual ; self centred regionalism and tribalism, elbowing and witch hunting; dishonesty and jealousy and all related negative vices will always corrupt good habits and retard development processes; something that has no place in sports dispensation. All actions, positive / negative, will make the difference no matter how small or big.
The new executive under the stewardship of Mr Mustapha Kebbeh are encouraged to champion our endeavours as we come out of recent dark times of Gambian football. They are all known as football campaigners just like their running mates to occupy the hot seat as dictated by the Federation’s new constitution recently okayed at an adoptive congress.
Gambian Football have therefore since spoken. They are our volunteers and custodian to forge ahead and consolidate some of the gains made by their immediate past- predecessors. They are also public figures under the spotlight and accountable to football. The open door policy and the inclusion of the media among the sub committees is forward thinking and most welcomed. The institution will be opened to transparency about plans, activities, books balancing, assumptions, shortcomings and progresses.
There will be road blocks along the way because in sports, quality attainment is difficult. They say, quality without a strong underpinning finances and collective commitment, is unsustainable. Here is where the business sector can be of great value. Experience teaches us that businesses normally consider working with progressive, reliable or good image- partners to safe guard and promote their products. Football which rules all sports, is a potential crowd puller. In some cases, a business without adverts is just like - “winking a girl in the dark.” But I second that if we reconcile (Big Time) and put our acts together, Gambian Football across the board, will break the dead lock especially in the senior cadre.
Yes - there has to be a downside to everything. We have to pick up the broken pieces, fill up the void and continue as glory chasers like every other nation and promote our own identical football brand. The Gambia have the talents 4 generations back. We therefore call on FIFA, the Sports & Education Ministries, Regional Governing Offices and Zonal / Regional Sports Associations from Banjul to Basse, to back the GFF aspirations to make our structures more viable and transcend socio-economic enhancement. Improving on grass root empowerment and infrastructural decentralisation especially beyond the Greater Banjul Area is a national challenge and still remains achievable.
This commentary is far from lecturing or scribbling choice of good / critical words but it is all about raising a national emergency and acknowledging the way forward to our football. Consequently, this turn around challenge is not the “Be All And End All Road Map.” Its incumbent upon us all claiming to have a stake at Football House, to leave up to expectations in our own quarters and capacitize ourselves to the smooth transition of our Sports and march with international standards that will suit our Gambian interest. Gambians love football. Confidence of power back to Gambia’s Football House is like sweet music!! HATS OFF! HUNDRED TIMES to doyens Alh. OB Conateh and Alh. Omar Sey whose credentials and inputs in Gambian football has not gone without notice. For them, is like teaching maestro - Jaliba Kuyateh how to play the Kora.
My humble thoughts and prayers for Gambian Football.
PaAssan Badjanis aGambian Football Correspondent / Campaigner - London UK.