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GFA's Nervous Week Of Suspense

Oct 2, 2009, 6:03 AM | Article By: Lamin Cham

From the look of things the GFA has just lived through the most trying times of its life in the wake of the MRI age test. Ever since Fifa touted its much dreaded mandatory age test for this year's Cadet competition, most national associations whose team's qualified for the tourney were forced to live the intervening period before the tourney with a tinkle of fear at the corner of their heads. Among them, the GFA.

Because firstly, the nation is the current champions of Africa, naturally putting it to much scrutiny and having seen Niger expelled from under her nose back in the African Championship, The Gambia will not take any chance.
But when officials finally decided to end the suspense and anxiety on September 5 and ferried the dozens of players across the sea to Dakar for the test, they hardly seem to be prepared to handle the aftershock of the results.

For instead of coming out with the inevitable public commodity, they selected to drag the nation into unnecessary prolonged suspense by keeping the results secret in the spirit of 'Doctor Patient relationship, and protecting the image of the players' to quote the admirably phrased diplomatic language of Secretary-General Jammeh Bojang. (Here is a man whose quality and worth is often overlooked by most football followers, GFA officials included).

During the reign of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, there used be a system of repelling criticisms or diverting attention, called Spin. A certain Alistair Campbell, head of Blair's media advisors, was dubbed 'Spin Master'.

In the administration of the Gambia Football Association, Jammeh Bojang is the Spin Master. Never short of words to defend his executive, he is either inventing new arguments or repeating old ones. He also knows when to say nothing. Back in the May 1998, at the height of his election bid to the Office of Secretary-General, l confronted him with a question as to, if he had any fear that his election bid may failed, amid rumours that some provincial delegates were yet to be tagged, he answered, "my campaign is Noah's Ark and those who failed to get on board will be perished by the storm. He won with a landslide and he is still in the job. That is the genius in Jammeh.
So even recently, while the rest of the GFA and perhaps government officials were toying with all sorts of ideas not to cause the Nigeria type of national and international alarm, with the MRI results, Jammeh Bojang seemed to be the only man feeling at ease. He did not even need to assess the situation because ten years of experience has taught him what to sell to the public; 'Doctor- Patient relationship' must be obeyed, he cunningly phrased.
But much as I agree with SG, I have always wonder how long would it take to hide the identities of the patients who, as in this case, are people who have been paraded on prime time TV, more than five times as they battle in Algeria and countless times later back in Banjul as they toured the country

Instant millionaires live with their fame forever. It is like hiding Lamin Cham in The Gambia among a dozen of others with the same name. That said, I must state my delight that we handle the affairs more maturely than our peers and I hope that the post MRI test and team go ahead to bring us greater glory in Nigeria.
Now that, that phase is over, the FA's never ending challenging task shifts to getting an organised tournament by putting in place all logistics well ahead of time to avoid shoddy last minute frantic activities that yield little fruits.

By this, I mean the issue of the fans. My experience is that fans who the world over are known for their passion for the game and love of their team(thanks to their hijacking of an airliner just to see their team play) are often left in suspense as to when or whether they would even go until the last moment

Having already gone to government and the President for help on behalf of the team, the GFA is always shy to go back and ask for more on behalf of the fans too almost immediately, though they eventually have to do just that. (Often with the backing of we the mutually interested noisy media as we too benefit from those last minute packages).
Frankly, am still cursing my luck for missing out in the post Algeria cash bonanza...ha ha ha!
I say mutual interest, then perhaps it is therefore appropriate for me to launch here "Operation 12th Scorpion to Nigeria" by humbly calling on President Jammeh and the FA to start negotiating with airlines right away .

The GFA can take the lead by seeking corporate sponsorships with one of  the many airlines flying the Banjul-Lagos Route, and perhaps with the blessing of the President, the Civil Aviation or is it Gambia International Airlines  can waive some handling charges  for such an airline in exchange of flying the fans to be the 12th Scorpions in Nigeria.

Talking about airlines, and to wrap-up, the question was asked in a certain current affairs radio programme in the UK as to which group of people hijacked an airliner in mid flight, forcing it to land at the airport of their choice, and got away with it? A great deal of time passed as most of the contestants grappled with the random clues thrown at them by the Moderator. A grab bag of speculations ensued  with some calling the names of dead and living terrorists  from Abu Nidal to Bin Laden, before someone shouted, "Oh I know, Gambian football fans on their way to a match''

That settles it folks, Scorpions fans are the most famous football supporters on earth and they deserve to be in Nigeria.