Gambia needs a break from international football
- Monday, 25 June 2012
- Written by Gibril MS Jassey
Gambian football needs to undergo a five-year break in order to develop our players from the grassroots level. The current performance of our players in the senior national team the (Scorpions) is very woeful. Our players seriously lack ability compared to other countries national teams.
They easily get tired, when playing. Is it that they lack enough training time to prepare themselves against their opponents? The recent performance of the Scorpions against Algeria both at home and away and as well against Morocco at home is very disappointing. The way our team plays is like there is no team spirit among them.
Is it because our players are not well motivated so that they can give the country their best of performance when playing for the Gambia or is it because, our so-called foreign based players are not up to the same standard compared to other players from other national teams?
I think it is even better we concentrate on our local based players and give them all the necessary motivation needed and do away with our self claimed professionals who cannot bring any glory for the country. It is hard to say but our foreign-based players are not up to standard for us to surely rely on them, if we want to achieve any qualification to any major tournaments at the senior level.
Our recent humiliating defeat by the Desert Foxes of Algeria by four goals to one is very embarrassing. We are known to be best in anything we participate in. So why can’t we still be able to qualify to serious football competitions like the nation’s cup and stop boasting of the U-17’s achievements at the junior level?
Since 1952, the Gambia Football Association (GFA) got affiliated to both the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA; we cannot even qualify to any major tournament at the senior level. We cannot even win the Zone II tournament. The U-17 we won twice and qualified for world championships in Peru and Canada respectively cannot be called any major achievement in football.
U-17 is an amateur tournament where there is no serious reward given to any winning country that the nation can benefit from. We need to do away with friendship in football and start telling each other the truth so that we can achieve something now. We want to watch our players playing at the nations and world cups now.
Gambian Football has gone beyond that level now to be managed by a group of individuals for their own selfish interest at the expense of the country. We are tired of hearing from our coaches and technicians saying that our luck ends here and there. So we need to go back to the drawing board to correct our mistakes.
The drawing boards are now full for mistake ratifications. There is no more space for you to write and correct your never corrected errors. I think the solution to all this is to take a five-year break and develop a team from the grassroots level. We really need to take a serious five year break from all international football and hire the services of well respected local or international technicians to look into the problems of our football and come up with recommendations and solutions to the obstacles hindering the progress of our game.
Gambian football is really having s serious disease which is affecting its growth unlike other nations. Our football has been on the decline since our famous goalless and 1-1 draws with the Terenga Lions of Senegal in June and October of 2008 respectively. That team was a marvelous one. They need commendation. For this to be made possible it involves the full participation of all the stakeholders in football and here are some of my recommendations to all.
The National League
The national league, which is supposed to serve as a main source of supplying national team players to all categories needs a serious restructuring. Our national league is not cared for that much. Is it because of the caliber of footballers we have in our leagues or is it because the leagues normally start late? Sometimes it is very disgusting when you walk into a league match and find less than fifty spectators at the venue. Or is it that teams are not owned by a community that is why spectators don’t follow teams when playing to cheer them up?
Brikama United’s achievements can somehow be attributed to the support of their fans who normally follow them in all their matches and the support of the Brikama community in general. We need to support our football if we want to achieve glory. Football cannot go without spectators and ambiance. Without proper national league it would be very difficult to achieve any meaningful development in the game of football.
Football teams need to motivate their players very well both morally and financially if they want to expect any meaningful reward in return. Football is now a profession and it needs to be taken as a full time employment. Players need to be looked after and also allocated a monthly remuneration or even monthly family support in the area of feeding and housing as a way to make them concentrate on their careers. A player cannot give his best in any match if he cannot even provide a bag of rice for his family at home out of football or your family member is sick and you cannot even have money to buy medicine or pay the medical bills.
If such player is to play a particular match, he would not be able to concentrate or even perform up to expectation. Our local-based players need to be well motivated and cared for at all times if we need to have players plying their trade in major European leagues. Our players cannot be beggars to their officials whenever they need help. They should be partners but not the other way round.
Sometimes you would see a particular player to be loyal to an individual official in the team just because he always solves his financial needs. Sometimes you meet players hanging around the team officials’ offices or compounds waiting for drawback to be taken home for family support instead of going home to rest to prepare themselves for the team’s training session or league matches.
A clear example can be Gamtel/Gamcel FC, Real De Banjul; to name but a few, their recent excellent performance in the national league can be attributed to player motivation. If the teams are struggling to live up to their expectation, the national football governing body-GFA should also stand up and come up with strategies to look for sponsorship for the league.
Because it’s very disheartening for a team to win a national league and the FA Cup when you cannot give them their consolidation prizes on the spot but take you some many years to give them their prizes or some even end up not having it at all. There should be a permanent marketing team installed by the FA in collaboration with the sports Ministry to secure funding for the football and not only when there is international matches. To be candid, if our local league is not properly structured, our football cannot go anywhere.
There are so many big companies in the country. If at least twenty of them can be encouraged to sponsor the national league with each contributing an amount of D0.5 million and be given some percent knock-off from their tax by the state as compensation in return it would really yield dividends. That contribution would be an amount of D10 million. From that money any winner of the league can be given D5 million and the FA cup winner to be given D250 000 and the balance of the money to be shared among the other competing teams as participation cost.
If this is done within a five-year period our league would be well recognized and as well empower our local teams financially and it will also attract serious football scouts to the country. Our national league should be our main area of concentration to identify potential players and groom them for our future senior national teams. The performance of goalkeeper Christopher Allen against Morocco and Algeria is extremely wonderful. If players like him can be identified and train together collectively and give them huge financial motivation they will surely qualify the nation to the African nations cup in the near future.
In a bid to do well in any competition, the coaching staff of any particular team need to have well technical minded technicians who can be able to read any particular match to identify the problems and advise the coach immediately. Our senior national players can score first in most of the games but defending their lead is always the problem. Is it because they lack enough energy or there is no proper technical back up to advise the coaching staff when any particular player is not performing well at his area in the field of play?
We need seasoned technicians and not a technical department that would be pocketed by our so-called foreign based players. It’s high time we stop licking each other’s wounds and start telling each other the truth as a way forward to develop the game. People should not be brought into the technical staff because he is a friend or he belongs to the team he supports. Technicians should be persons who know the game at their finger tips.
The success of Osama Doudu at the U-17 in 2005 was because he was supported by a dedicated technical staff that had the same vision with him and respects one another’s opinions, but not like now where a coaching staff would be having their own camps and blaming players and lack of proper training camp whenever the team loses. A coach should be a firm somebody and be bold enough to take decisions but not to be dictated by individuals.
Football in any nation cannot be developed without the support of the media. The role of the media in the game of football is very crucial. The people in the media though can have their individual players and technicians they fancy but they should not show it to the public as their role is to serve as PR between the players, the technicians and the general public. The local media need to really help the FA in their efforts to develop the game, especially in the area of publicity both at local and international matches.
But our duty should not only stop at castigating players, technicians and the FA whenever they commit an error, but we should be coming up with ideas in our various radio programmes or publications to address the problems constructively. Not to name any media house, but there are some of them which are very supportive to the FA when there is an international match, in the area of advertisement and also providing in-depth coverage of the national league.
Kudus to them and let them keep it up. Sometimes it is very frustrating when you tune into some radio sports shows or you bought a national newspaper and the only thing you hear or read about is international sports. Let us try to promote our own players and also give our national league a deserving media attention, which would surely help the FA in attracting potential sponsors into the league.
Long live Gambian football and thanks to all the players, technicians, the FA, supporters, the media, the Ministry of youth and sports and as well the head of state for the support he has been rendering to football. We are very grateful for making our players millionaires. Please your support is also needed in the national league.