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Gambia’s women set sight on African breakthrough

Jun 19, 2017, 11:51 AM | Article By: John Mendy

The development of a national team has over decades faced challenges similar to those across Africa, although the national football Federation is boosting members focusing on women’s football.

The advent of the FIFA Live your goals Girls project is also beginning to shape up girls’ participation in the game; thus promoting the steady growth of the Female domestic Leagues though the sport is still developing.

The Gambia have long not instituted a recognized Women’s National team nor has the country participated in a major regional and international tournaments, including the Women’s World Cup, the African Women’s Championship or the All-Africa Games.

However, it was in 2012 Gambia competed in the  FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup held in Azerbaijan, where they played three games but exited at the group stage, following a lack of luck and experience that counted against them.

But after five years today, the women’s national team has set their sights on new horizon. The women’s football community in The Gambia has decided to put that setback behind it and focus on the future.

Target: Ghana 2018

Virtually, the same players that represented the country in Azerbaijan has begun working hard to catch up with other nations as hopes of qualifying for the 2018 Cup of Nations in Ghana and the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 are high.

“Our goal is now to qualify for the 2018 Cup of Nations,” confirmed Penda Bah. “We have an excellent group who play in our domestic league and very familiar. My teammate’s general skill level is high and we’re determined to succeed.”

Ajara Samba age 20, whose dream is to wear the national team jersey, is convinced that she and her team-mates have what it takes to shine in Ghana, as long as certain conditions are met.

“The Cup of Nations is not a pipe dream, as long as we put the work in and line up some friendly matches so as to make our team more cohesive. If the Men’s National team cannot make it, without doubt we will make it.”

The 13th edition of the 2018 showpiece tournament will be held in Ghana from November 17th to 1st December, and the top three teams will qualify for the Women’s World Cup in France the following the year. The Gambia is aiming to secure one of the seven remaining spots in order to make it to both the continent and global stage for the first time.

France aspiration

Any female footballer dreams of one day taking part in the Women’s World Cup, and Gambians are no exception, as France will be the host nation in 2019.

“If we put in more work, we will qualify. And I know that dream will be realized next year “inshallah” because my assistant Abdoulie Bojang is vast in Gambian football, so I am very confident we will make it and raise the national flag high” said Sowe.

Mariama, meanwhile, believes that Gambia should take a new leaf and start supporting women’s football in order to flourish at continental level.

“We’re well positioned to make women’s football a big success. What we need to do is work hard and takes a long-term approach to planning while the general public, including institutions and companies come together and support.”

The development of women’s football has faced several challenges; including funding – another but major issue impacting the game in the country, and most financial assistance comes from FIFA and not national football Federation. But as the women’s national team set for a new challenge, the GFF has positive belief in these girls.

The introduction of the national team which currently trains at the national technical center in Yundum is the first national team that is seeking CAF & FIFA recognition.

The Gambia Women’s National team will first horn their skills against a visiting Cape Verde later in August 26th in an international friendly ahead of the 2018 qualifiers which starts on February 26th.