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When Will It Be Done ?

May 13, 2008, 6:00 AM | Article By: By Ebou Manneh

Both men, women and children, are saying when will it be done for the Gambia senior national team to participate in the African Cup of Nations?

According to many football analysts The Gambia will only make it if the right structures are put in place. We need, first and foremost, efficient machinery that would execute vital arrangements in a timely manner: arrangements for professional players to camp on time, arranging travel tickets on time, catering for camping of teams, arrangements for payment and satisfactory accommodation arrangements for coaches, are all important for proficient preparation for matches and field performance of teams. This can be achieved only with a competent and efficient Secretariat. A high caliber coach is also needed, who can take care of the team technically, psychologically, tactically. We need to have series of test matches to assess our teams, and to promote team cohesion and performance. The big question remains: when can The Gambia accomplish these very basic matters, more importantly securing the permanent services of an able Coach?

If we can recall back during the handing over of 22 plots of land to the 2005 former U-17 team in Salagi layout located between Sukuta and Brusubi, a cheque for D1,120,000 was also presented to the 1st Vice president of the Gambia Football Association (GFA) as match bonuses to the U-20 team.

The Secretary of State for Fisheries, Hon Yankuba Touray, has spoken of the need for a concerted effort to be made by Government and the private sector to promote and prepare Gambian players for the export market in order to eradicate poverty through sports. Another point he made was that The  Gambia is yet to make significant growth in playing in the English Premiership or other highly rated European leagues. He said, "it is in recognition of the fact that my government has recently established a sports development fund to promote sports at all level. The fund will revitalise schools sports in collaboration with the Department of State of Basic and Secondary Education through the re-introduction of PE teacher training, to be piloted in some regions." Secretary of State Yankuba Touray was speaking on behalf of President Alhagi Yahya AJJ Jammeh at a dinner marking the formal handing over of plots of land to the 2005 former U-17 team and match bonuses to the U-20 team.

According to the SOS "In recent times football has become the most popular sports and one of the biggest industries contributing to the economically developing countries, especially in Brazil. It is among the first five contributors to their economy through remittances from the foreign players in that country, contributing to economic growth and getting people out of poverty".

He said Africa is also beginning to realize the benefits secured from this noble sport through the export of players to mostly European clubs. And we believe the appointment of a highly rated coach will help us achieve our goals. We believe that it is the duty of the FA to identify a coach for the national team as they are the watchdogs of our game of football in The Gambia, and whoever is capable of handling our national team, we should go for it if the funds are available. We need to help each other for the betterment of football in The Gambia; the ministry has to come up and tell the general public why the coach that the FA identified is still in limbo. We don't have time anymore; we have to start now if we want to see The Gambia in Angola. We agree with the first vice president's  comments he during a program on West Coast radio when he said that every coach has his personal problem, but we want to know if at all the coach that the F A, identified, Paul Put, is having a problem also, because of a match fixing scandal. But then why is FIFA and CAF allowing him to work with his papers? Secondly the ministry should work with the FA hand in hand for the betterment of football in The Gambia; they should help The Gambia not the GFA because we all recall that during the time of the U17- U20, if The Gambia wins, it is all round celebration for both old and young in the country.

We are appealing to the ministry to get this sticky problem resolved once and for all.

For the meantime a team of local coaches like Alhaji Sarr, Alhaji Sillah, Sang Ndong, Lamin Sarr, Bonu Johnson, Tarik, and even the Italian Lorenzo Rubenacci, should take charge as the issue of the foreign coach is still subjected to inexplicable delay.