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One sector that keeps Gambians proud is refereeing, GFF president

Jan 13, 2014, 9:40 AM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

Mustapha Kebbeh, president of the Gambia Football Federation (GFF), has said that one sector that keeps Gambians proud is refereeing.

Kebbeh made this remark whilst speaking on Friday during the accreditation of 5 Gambian Central and 7 Assistant Referees with FIFA 2014 Insignias and presentation of certificates to 27 referees who attended a basic training course last November at the GFF House in Kanifing

“Referees are the honour of our country,” the GFF president added. “Today in The Gambia we are all proud to be Gambians, especially in refereeing, because we have seen what it takes. We have seen Gambian referees at the highest level of refereeing.

“If you talk to us about the performance of our teams in respect of club championships, the African Cup of Nations and World Cup, we will bend our heads but the moment you mention refereeing we are bold enough to show our face, for we understand that we are not behind in refereeing.”

While single-handedly once again commending Papa Bakary Gassama for his efforts and dedication in raising the Gambian flag high, Kebbeh said: “The honours is on you gentlemen, out of a lot - close to 2 million Gambians, it’s only the few of you who we can boost of and we want to continue to be proud of you.

“Papa has definitely raised the Gambian flag high and that is something we are all proud of.We are on it, our prayers are on, but for me I have no hesitation that Papa will officiate in the World Cup and not only Papa but most of our referees.

“We will continue to stand by you, we have our role, you have you role, we will handle the political will; you handle your commitment and dedication.

He also encouraged the Gambian star referee, saying: “We expect you to continue your commitment and dedication. We also expect you to execute your functions, you have the function of a judge or magistrate, you are human as errors are accepted but please I implore on you to be responsible.”

He told referees to execute their functions without fear or favour, affection or ill will, saying: “I want to promise you that we will stand by you but I want you to promise me one thing that you will work as a team and respect your seniors and your authorities.”

The GFF boss added: “None of us will excel except if we have discipline as our fundamental corner stone. The senior members amongst you sacrifice their time, wherever you get to without their efforts you would not be there.

“Of course you have personal commitment and willingness; that is what takes you there but I say if you don’t appreciate you cannot celebrate, which also goes without saying that the senior members are also urged to execute their functions with due diligence and in line with the code of conduct and the ethics of our game and the spirit of leadership.”

He called on referees to work as a team, pledging to the current senior referees to cooperate to ensure there are also senior female referees and work together with them to move the game to higher level.

“Next year when you do the fitness test for referees I want to see both male and female referees,” he told the Gambia Referees Association while saluting the efforts of Lamin Camara, president of the association, and Adama Mbye, in ensuring that Gambian referees get their well-deserved badges.

“The challenge you have taken execute it with due diligence,” he told young referees, calling on them to be respectful to their authorities and be appreciative of their efforts.

“For my female colleagues you have my personal support; so you have every reason to be proud and you have every reason to peruse your career and every reason to make sure you are shining amongst your colleague,” he assured the female referees.

“I am very passionate about female football in totality because it’s a bond between me and FIFA President Sepp Blatter,” he revealed, saying Mr Blatter has promised to give him every support and he has promised Blatter that he would ensure the development female football.

“If we want to excel we must go with both female football and female referees,” he stated, calling on referees with a lot of experience to get the young ones training programmes.

The Gambia must not be left behind in both female football and refereeing, he added, saying they will not deny anyone of his or her rights.

Kebbeh described the accreditation of this year’s insignias as a historic milestone in his office’s quest for football development in the country.

The GFF president congratulated the referees association, saying it was the first association to respond to the call for capacity building.

The efforts and resources invested into the training of young referees held last November has been highly remarkable on the part of members of the referees association and the senior referees, he said, adding: “We are going to implore on you all as you take this role to execute your duties with diligence, maximum discipline and show maximum restraints.”

While calling on them to take decisions without fear or favour, Mr Kebbeh said: “One thing should be your slogan: fair play is our game.”

Sheriff Njie, one of the Central Referees accredited with 2014 FIFA Insignias speaking to reporters shortly after the ceremony, expressed sincere pride and happy for being accredited FIFA Central Referee for the second year running.

He said being accredited is all down to hard work, commitment and dedication, adding that refereeing is one the hardest jobs in the world.

“You don’t referee inside your home or house,” he said, adding: “You do it outside and people look at you, see you progress and will discuss it. Not only spectators or teams but also the Referees Committee including the GFF, which is the parent body, all watch them when they officiate games.”

He said people should expect the same good refereeing from him or even better because whenever he put on the referee’s uniform to officiate a game he always makes sure he gives 100 per cent to the best of his ability.

“We are human beings like any other person and might make mistakes but they have to be minimal,” he also said, adding that he hopes for the very best the whole year around.

He concluded by urging young referees to keep working very hard because they the senior referees will not stay at the top forever. “We will do our quota and pass, then they will come in; so let them work hard, be together and be patient,” he said.

Jama Njie, a young female referee who was certified after completing the basic training held in November, expressed delight with being certified, saying the training would motivate her to worker harder.

The certificate tells her who she is now and where her she wants to get to, she says, adding that she would do her best to get to the top.

The former City Girls player, who decided to end his playing career to become a referee due to the limited number of Gambian female referees, recalled that she was being subjected to insults during her first game and had to even be in tears.

After the game, she decided she was going to quit refereeing, but thanks to the support and encouragement of people, she is ready to take up the profession again and prove herself.

Njie, who described being a female referee in the country as not easy, remarked that she would want to be the first Gambian female referee to represent the country internationally.

Jainaba Manneh, also a young female referee, received a certificate for taking part in the last November Basic Training Course.