Focus on Ellen Gai: A Female Footballer with an Inspiring Story

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The City Girls FC captain trains and travels with the Gambia's Women's team to Liberia for the Women's Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, in which the Gambia triumphs.

By: Ebrima KB Sonko

Football in The Gambia, predominantly female football, might not be lucrative. However, a few young ballers like Ellen Gai, the captain of City Girls Football Club, have managed to use their small earnings from football to establish a hairdresser saloon which is yielding a profit for her.

Ellen Gai, 21, was a Gambian Youth U-20 female player. Her stellar performances with the baby scorpions and her commanding display at the City Girls FC’s backline caught the coaches’ eyes of The Gambia Women’s National Team. As a result, she would late join the Gambia’s Women’s Scorpion team.

The City Girls FC captain trains and travels with the Gambia’s Women’s team to Liberia for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, in which the Gambia triumphs.

Ellen watches the entire match on the bench. She will ever remember her maiden called up to represent her country at the senior level, not only because of the pride that comes with representing one’s country but the winning match bonuses of sixty-five thousand dalasis (D65,000) she and her colleagues received. She will later wisely use it to establish a beauty and a hairdresser saloon.

Ellen Gai

“I established my business when I traveled with the senior national team to Liberia for the women’s qualifiers; the GFF gave us D65, 000 for our allowances and a match bonus, and with the help of my mother, sister, and friends, I established my business.”

Ellen Gai confessed that the match bonus is not much, but it helps her establish her business.

“When I joined the national team, allowances were not much, but it really helped me establish my own business when added to my savings,” She said.

Ellen’s fairy tale journey to the pinnacle of Gambian women’s football could have been smoother, just like many Gambian female footballers, due to the stereotype and cultural beliefs that women should be at home doing house chores.

Ellen Gai confessed that the match bonus is not much, but it helps her establish her business.

Ellen endured a lot, including losing her job because she alleged that the CEO of Jabbie Enterprise, Muhammed Jabbie forced her to choose between playing football or working for the company full-time.

Ellen Gai’s love for football will later influence her decision to choose football because of the ultimatum the supremo of Jabbie’s enterprise gave her, which later turns out to be a blessing in disguise for Ellen.

Seedou Sanneh, a Sports Journalist, and a women’s football enthusiast described Ellen as a workaholic and a player who listens to instructions in training.

“Ellen, over the years, has improved rapidly in her performance. She works hard in training and listens to instructions from her coaches.” Seedou said.

Afterward, he added, “Her revelation and exploitation rejuvenated City Girls last season into a team that had fought for a third-place finish in the league. She is at the peak of her career right now.”

Ellen Gai led City Girls Football Club to a 4th place finish in the Gambia Football Federation’s Women’s Division 1 League in the 2021/2022 campaign.

Ellen Gai’s Comestic and Beauty Saloon is located at Tallinding in the Kaninfing Municipal Council (KMC).

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