It is rather surprising to see the GFA releasing the 1st Division fixtures without even the annual clubs management meeting, in which the FA meet with clubs to postmortem the 2008/9 season and map out the direction of the 2009/10 season.
Without a technical department it's a wonder, who is making the decision or advising the GFA of such technical matters. Even the Organising Committee in which all clubs are supposed to be represented have not meet to prepare a work plan for the coming season.
It is totally difficult to understand why the GFA is so in a haste to start the 1st Division league without even the clubs starting their preseason training. Preseason is so fundamental that clubs cannot do without. Preseason training is the foundation in which the physical, technical, psychological and tactical aspects of the team are built for the season. Football is physically demanding which requires high intensity running, tackling, turning and jumping.
Research has shown that a top-class football player makes approximately 1100 changes in exercise intensity and covers a distance of about 11 km during a match. As such, a proper preseason can help a player endure the physical demands of the season and maintain the technical abilities throughout the season.
The Gambia Football Coaching Association should advise the GFA of the importance of a proper preseason as they wouldn't want a scenario where they will be in preseason, while the league is on.
The task of the Coach as we know is two fold: to get the best out of the players as individuals and as a team; and to ensure that the sum of the whole exceeds the sum of all the separate parts. If one of the parts, for example, the defense is ineffective it will affect the sum of the whole i.e. the midfield and attack. One does not need to be very astute, therefore to do without a proper preseason.
As Coaches are considered the most important figures in a club, they should intervene and advise the GFA or their relevant clubs administrators that without a proper preseason of 6-8 weeks, their work would be jeopardised.
Even the 1st division fixture circulated totally lack technical sense. Clubs are expected to play 3 matches in December and 8 matches in January to complete the first round of the league. How can coaches improve and develop their players and team with such a tight fixture without a proper preseason to build the foundation of the team's fitness?
This flies in the face of all that is known about human athletic performance. Crushing 11 matches into 6 weeks without a proper preseason will cause what the expert term as "training and practice indigestion" and will ultimately lead to chronic player sickness i.e. training without clear objectives and injuries.
Just consider if the second round is played in February and the FA cup in March, that will be the end of the 2009/10 football season. How can we improve or develop with four months of football league? This barely meets the required hours for a competitive player.
According to the High Level Task Force set-up by the GFA in 1999, the HLTF stated that a player needs to play an average of 3600 to 5000 numbers of competitive football in a season in order to experience an appreciable level of improvement and this must be regular and continuous.
Going by this statement, the players will be short of the minimum hours required by a player. We should definitely start doing things the right way.
I submit this article as a technician and not in my capacity as the Secretary-General of the Banjul Sports Committee.