May 14, 2008, 6:26 AM
The success, which crowned NYC Gambia as World Champions of the Cosmos Copa 2014, comes on the back of relentless sacrifice, the sleepless nights, the hunger in Ramadan and the loss of pay at work.
Eighteen teams representing 18 countries cruised through a great soccer tournament in the heart of New York City, the city that never sleeps.
In the end, the James M Stuart Stadium at Hofstra University in Hempstead became the home of New York City Gambia.NYC France has been viewed largely as the top contender throughout the 2014 Cosmos Copa. For a second straight year, a West African nation will take aim at unseating the favorites.
With the Gambian flag hanging over the top of the stadium, Gambia nearly written on the scoreboard and the Gambia national anthem sung to the delight of mascots and cheer leaders in Long Island country, the team became the embodiment of our values and the pride of the Republic of The Gambia.
This was another indication of how well the award as Gambia Youth Organisation (GYO) Man of the year fits Ansumana Gaye. It was no dream run or underdog story - at least that’s not how they view it.
Gaye’s team lost in the 2013 semifinals to NYC Senegal, who ended up losing to reigning champion France.That semifinal loss provided the fire and motivation to right last year’s wrong.
“Last year’s defeat woke us up,” said Gambian player Lamin Janneh. “We don’t like to lose to that team. They’re our neighbors and they know how badly we wanted it, so we’ve been putting in work since that day.”
To Gaye, NYC Gambia’s victory over NYC France in this year’s was never in doubt. His team trains hard and seriously.
The team trains four days a week at minimum, and the key to their success is the dedication put in by players and staff alike.
Gambia is affiliated with the Gambia Youth Organization, a sports programme that gives Bronx youth opportunities to succeed in athletic endeavours.
Playing in Copa is an opportunity for the players to continue to ply their trade and play matches at high level, and even get the chance to hoist the cup when it’s all over.
Structure and organization is what took such a young team and propelled them into the finals. In their semifinal match, Gambia’s backline bent but never broke under the weight of Senegal’s repeated attacks into the box.
The Cosmos Copa, at its core, is a cup for people that have come to New York from all over the world. NYC France represents the French community in New York, and NYC Gambia does the same for the Gambian community.
For a nation that has never reached a FIFA World Cup, this tournament means so much to Gaye and his players. It is their World Cup.