Ras Judah on Women’s Football, Others 

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Ras Judah

By: Baboucarr Fallaboweh 

Top Gambian football enthusiast and analyst Ras Judah is well known for giving a voice to women’s football in the Gambia.

The Afri radio and Gam Women Foot pundit has become a beacon of hope in advocating for the rights of Gambian female football players.

TAT’s Sports Editor sat with the analyst as he took us through the strides made last season, the challenges female football faced, and the way forward.

TAT: Why do you advocate for women’s football?

 Ras: I need to support women’s sports because I advocate for the development and recognition of the talent that women have. I sat here and felt women’s football would need my voice way more than men’s football. 

A lot of people speak for the guys, but there aren’t many speaking for the females. There are so many fights that we cannot leave them alone to fight. 

For example, when women’s football money comes in, and being diverted to other projects instead of what it came in for. 

I felt we need more voices to go in there and say what you guys are doing is not the best practice. 

Women deserve better. We live in a world where women still need to go above and beyond to succeed, while the passage is simpler and easier for men.

TAT: Take us through the positives of this past season.

Ras: Positive events have occurred, and this has given us hope. Compared to a few years ago, the champions in Division One and Two have become more decorated even though more can be done. Red Scorpion and Jeshwang trophy presentation can be compared to the male counterpart. 

Moreover, these teams’ monies were given as part of the positives we saw in women’s football last season. The national team takes part in multiple qualifications in different categories.

If you look at the AWCON qualifiers versus Sierra Leone, that win was huge for us. Also, Catherine Jatta’s home goal against Cameroon was positive, and you see that news going around it, which was huge for women’s football. 

The senior national team’s foreign-based player was a big highlight and positive for women’s football. In addition, women’s football representatives were empowered and recognized for the excellent job they kept doing.

Sainey Mboge, Senior Women’s Football Coordinator, attended the UEFA-FIFA leadership academy course in Switzerland, which was significant and prominent. 

The team restored confidence by recognizing Adama Jarju and the incredible job that she is doing, developing women from a kid’s age to become better in the future. 

Aisha Fatima Malack, with a post-graduate degree in management, is excellent news for women’s football. Because empowering women through leadership and capacity building will go a long way. Later on, they will be the ones to direct the way women’s football should go in The Gambia.

The All-Stars game was very well-planned and impactful for women’s football. Fans, footballers, and stakeholders all expressed their satisfaction in having something like that. 

That’s why we have to give credit and celebrate Gam Women Fans TV and Scorpions TV, who came up with such an initiative and have been promoting and following the league the entire season.

TAT: What are some of the challenges you have faced this season; which areas need improvement?

Ras: We still want stakeholders to take it to the AGM meetings to ensure all women footballers in First Division and Second Division have voting rights. 

The problem with us Gambians is that we are inconsistent and don’t hold people accountable. For example, the voting rights issue was widespread during the election, but you won’t hear it now. That’s us Gambians, and we need to improve on that.

Increasing the support to ensure the league champions go to the CAF preliminaries for club competitions. This is also a priority. The FF should prepare a concrete schedule in time so that our league is finished before CAF does its balloting. 

We are yet to attend. Let them increase the financial support so the team can travel away and have enough to play at home. 

Better playing conditions, be it the pitches, grounds, or schedules. We don’t want to play 3 pm games. We will prefer mid-week games over the 3 pm kick-off. 

Take us to one of these mini stadiums on a Saturday or Sunday for a 5 pm kick-off. The Kitty field needs a good locker room so that these girls’ privacy will not be exposed. Anything that endangers their health should be taken out of there and provided emergency resources.

Last year we didn’t have any FA Cup competition. We have fewer teams if you compare us to the men’s side. So it shouldn’t be harder to run an FA Cup. The guys have their FA Cup, and that’s how it should be.

Ruggie Joof joining Determined Girls FC in Liberia is another positive, but an area where we need more improvement. We need the FF and media houses to do more coverage on these girls because so many talents outside there deserve to be on a professional contract. 

If only they do individual stories and features. Players are scoring hat-tricks. The FF media team should pick up these stories and sell them so that we can have more of our girls playing in foreign countries.

Morocco is an example that has heavily invested in its league, its under-age category, and its senior squad. As a result, they are reaping the results by claiming spots in the World Cup.

These are the things as part of the challenges we saw last season and want to improve on this season.

TAT: Women’s football needs visibility. How is the female league in terms of media and exposure?

Ras: Information is our biggest challenge in the media. If we can get it, we can beef up the media coverage of women’s football to the point that these players will be more exposed.

We need help from the people on the ground. It’s challenging to have some of this content up-to-date content. So we will urge the coaches and players to give us updates from the training ground, injury reports, and interviews before derby games.

If you look at other leagues, they give all of these so that followers can be updated and build more interest.

Coaches and players, and match commissioners should give us the results on time. Who scored and assisted; Statistics that can be measured so we can archive them. 

It’s usually very tough to report Catharine Jatta scoring a hat trick since you don’t know who assisted or the time. Also, you don’t have a video or picture of her celebrating. 

Thus in terms of media, we need resources and content from people on the ground, not GFF, but anyone who can give us content. 

TAT: How do you see investment and age cheating in the Gambia, as far as women’s football is concerned?

Ras: In terms of individuals investing in the game, that is, their resources and expertise, it’s looking very promising. Berewulung Female team is what the owners are putting into this team; I can confidently say that I don’t see many male teams putting that into their players. 

Berewulung is leading the way on how to take care of their players. Koita is pushing it alone with his support, but the amount of time and resources he puts into his team if he has the people who believe in his project is another team that will make a significant impact in the league. 

If age-cheating is to be kicked out, women’s football is the best place to lead the campaign. We do not have any excuse to cheat on players’ ages because most of the league players are high school students. So from U17 to U23, we should not create reasons to field overage players in place of these young but capable ladies.

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