Apr 7, 2009, 9:05 AM
The history of Gambian football is today seen in the present day game. Football has tremendously improved in the country following developments in several sectors. Football does not only mean kicking to the other's poles and scoring at will but a coordinated effort from the society, the Department of Sports, the Secretaries of State, parliamentarians, the team in question, the coaches, the technical team, the GFA and above all the president of the country.
The Gambia has gone through all these and has steadily increased in strength and might and has now stood to be a true force to reckon with in the face of hardness and difficulties in African Football. In 2005, The Gambia won the Under 17 Championship and in 2007, they could not qualify. Meanwhile they did not see that as a disgrace but a true chance to let them train and strategize for an onward win. Today, the Under 17 has set another record in Gambian football by not only defeating in all their matches but concealing only one goal by way of penalty. The boys returned eyes high, shoulders up to present the trophy. Is Gambian football a force to reckon with? Read on and see why Gambia excels in football and more.
Many football veterans, in the likes of Mam Bara Taal, Biri Biri, Mass Axi Gaye, Ebou Joof, Charles Thomas, Eku Forbes, George Gomez, Babou Sowe, Pa Mamadi Sowe, Salifou Ndure and Kaba Jallow. etc, you name them would sit back and enjoy their children excel on their behalf. In their days, they could have recorded successes as today but the laws and how football was looked at was quite different. In those days for example, Four Corners made a penalty. The game was not improved but today the game is improved by the day. Regional bodies have been set up only to control the game. In The Gambia, football has taken a U turn for the better as many successes have been recorded to enable the various national teams attain best standard.
All hands on deck
Today, people have woken up to football. Many families encourage their children to participate in football and for others they see football as part of life that needs not be separated from daily life. Due to the involvement of nations that compete over a CUP, has left many a Gambian thinking that they should be part of the fight to win trophies that they too would boast about and jubilate day in day out. As a result, many African countries who had earlier seen Gambian football as a sham are always in tears when they see Gambia appear or are placed in the same team, thus the many past confusion between some of them. The game has improved due to the encouragement lavished on the young boys who work at all cost to make their country proud each day.
President Yahya A.JJ Jammeh had laid the foundation a long time ago when he promised the teams concern and fulfilled his promises. He supported them big and did what he said he gave them lands and money when they won. He still stands behind them when they do not win. The boys went to Peru and he sponsored many fans to witness the match and their welcome was tremendous. The president takes football as his own and throws his heart in it. This in itself has helped his supporters and those who love their country to excel in all spheres of life have thrown their support behind the president and results have been realized. Even when he could not send supporters to Algeria for security reasons, he made it known publicly and apologized to the citizenry to let them understand. Gamcel, Africell have not been left behind in the race to helping Gambian football stand. After a vigorous jubilation, President Jammeh granted a holiday to the country. All these are meant to encourage the populace to continually give their unflinching support to the Under 17, Under 20 and the National Team, the Scorpions when they face the realities. The president gives moral support to them each time they are away facing a big battle. As in the case of the recent Under17 team in Algeria, when he spoke to the boys on a telephone conversation and was shown by GRTS live. He gave them a moral booster and the captain was quite pleased to talk to the father of the nation. His answers were limited to "Yes sir, yes we will sir, ok sir!" This in itself moved the boys beyond all emotions and those who watched them were full of joy. Wishing to have been part of the team to talk to the President in that very encouraging manner.
The recent feather in Gambia's cap is the Baby Scorpion's emergence as champions in the Under 17 in Algeria. Many nationals joined in to celebrate Gambia's success and it was seen on the streets. George Domingo commonly known as SLPP Domingo said Gambia has shown a lot of maturity in recent football. They are a young team and have feared no team since they started shinning. "They have locked horns with Senegal and have given them difficult times even with their professionals, like Alhajie Joof and others, Gambia came back with heads high up whilst Senegal could not smile because the Scorpions had deterred their moving ahead into the World Cup,"
Pa Modou Faal, a journalist at the Point Newspaper and a KWT Sports Forum commentator said, "This is the second time a Gambia Under 17 team is winning the CAF U 17 Africa Championship. In 2005, when The Gambia hosted the tournament in Banjul they won and this year also they won. This is all due to the development of youth football in The Gambia and there has also been a lot of improvement in the National League that is why the players were able to excel in Algeria. The coming of the youth football academies across the country contribute a lot in the development of football in the country. The selection of these Under 17 players was done by scouting out across the country, that means the Gambia Football Association, Technical committee and the Egyptian Coach toured the country to invite players to the team. But before the final selection players were tested and the best among the lot were selected and now this has paid a dividend they made the country proud in Algeria. GFA and the entire technical team of the U 17 need to be commended for the victory. I would call on people to always watch league matches because this would help them to contribute towards the GFA and enable them to know the players in the National League," he said.
Sports fans have expressed their satisfaction and are asking companies to support zonal matches from where these young boys are seen. They believe a vital FootballAcademy should be set up to train more children to meet up the future challenge of the game. Football is a therapy, winning a match brings more healing. Many got healing, emotionally and physically after the defeat of the Algerian team.