Nov 25, 2016, 10:30 AM
It is generally agreed that the Super Nawettan, also called Zonals, is the most exciting and popular football competition in the country and one which has the highest potentials to assuming a national criteria.
For more than twenty years now the competition has produced the most exciting atmosphere, pulled the largest crowd and showcased the country’s best talents some of whom ended up becoming international stars.
The Super Nawettan remains the most ready made event that could easily be a catalyst in mobilizing fanfare across the country, or at least the parts that take part in it.
For the first time in its history, The Gambia Football Association (GFA), the current Normalization Committee to be exact, last year delegated responsibility for organizing the event to a committee formed from among the zones themselves.
This move was hailed by many as a giant step towards the devolution of power to the zones and in tandem with the spirit of the super-Nawettan itself, which is to bring football to be identified with the community.
But the post-tournament assessment of the performance of this committee highlighted general flaws in the organization of the event that needs to be checked by both the GFA and the communities whose zones are in the competition before any decisions could be made as to whether they deserve another chance to organize it or return it to the GFA.
Though it is understandable that any new body must face teething problems to get to maturity, certain basic mistakes present in the last Super Nawettan are inexcusable for a body that boasts of seasoned football technicians, referees and or ex-players and administrators.
For example, none of the twelve zones had a copy of the registered red list of players of the other teams, making it impossible for teams to verify player eligibility, since no one knows who is in fact registered and by which date.
What was even more amateurish was that the entire registration process was left to one member of the committee who was a leader and chief organizer of one of the zones and, therefore, a fertile ground for conflict of interest and potential for unfair practice.
Because the committee operated as bunch excited club people who came by a huge, they did not feel the need to check on each other’s activity to ensure fair play. And so in the absence of proper scrutiny of the player lists all what a team needs to do to win is just to score goals than the opposing side regardless what happened before play.
Such a total disregard to the rules made it impossible for any serious observer to gauge actual strength of the teams, which cuts a huge slice of confidence in the administration committee.
Secondly, the sporadic chaos that marred the tournament from the crucial knockouts to the all mighty debacle in the very last match could have been avoided if careful attention was given to the fixture, especially at the end of the first round.
The table standings were poorly calculated resulting, by their own confessions, to teams been wrong against each other.
Even where they got the fixtures right, consideration of gate takings took over common sense as teams were forced to play more than one matches at their opponents’ grounds instead of providing a neutral venue or some semblance of such to enhance fairness.
But as if those flaws are child play, the committee went ahead to commit the most foul mistake in handing down a reasonably harsh punishment on Bakau in the wake of the violence at the final.
Bakau was guilty by association after their fan invaded the pitch but the circumstances that further aggravated the fracas on the night was not entirely Bakau made and therefore such considerations should have been made in passing the blame.
In my view Bakau was unjustly punished by imposing fines, confiscation of their vice championship money prize and banning them from competing.
That is just too unfair and should be revisited so that everyone can return to the Super Nawettan this year with full confidence and on equal footing.
Much as we appreciate the wonderful work of the committee in securing much needed financial sponsorship, we owe it to the nation to get things straight.