TAT Sports Analysis: Is the Gambian Football Federation serious about Women’s football in the Gambia?

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By: Babucarr Fallaboweh, TAT Sports Editor 

Women’s football in Africa is growing, with countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, and others making giant strides recently.

The game is developing in the Gambia, and much effort must be put into ensuring it grows to the highest potential.

In terms of talents, Gambia has in abundance; the likes of Adel Mendy, Mariama Cham, Khadijatou Jallow, Kumba Kuyateh, and Elizabeth Ndeckey are all fantastic players who can become top stars in the game developed well in the country.

With the conclusion of the WAFU A and B maiden U20 Women tournament, the Gambia was nowhere to be found. The country’s women U20’s last outing was the doubleheader against Morocco U20; the latter has booked a World Cup spot for the U17 (India) and Atlas Lionesses, their U20 exited in round four of the qualifiers, registering 4-3 aggregate against Benin, 9-1 aggregate against the Gambia before losing 5-4 penalties against Senegal. 

Morocco was the champion of the UNAF U-20 Women’s Tournament in 2019 and again won it in 2023. The Royal has invested heavily, as seen in the concluded U15 Pan African championship, where Ecole Omar IBN Khatab finished as Runners. At the same time, AS FAR are champions of the 2022 CAF Women’s champions league. 

The Atlas Lions have played almost 14 test matches from 2022 to date. They finally made it after failing to qualify in the last six editions of the Fifa Women’s world cup. Regarding the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, they didn’t qualify in seven previous editions before finishing as runners-up in 2022, and they will be hosting it again in 2024. Morocco has become a benchmark for football in the last five years, and inspiration must be drawn from them. Their women’s football has become an inspiration; with time, they will compete against Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and Cameroon. 

The national category that needs a proper approach is the U17, U23 Males, and U17 & U20 Women, which are all very strategic for transition. 

The Gambia has never assembled this pool of talents in the past years. But how sustainable is it if this pool of players can only grow by always being promoted to the senior national team? Much work must be done with only two appearances in the U17 and U20. 

 

What happens to the slogans that Kaba is the best president that supports women’s football? The election is over, promises failed, and now we live in the realities. As long as the executive has sponsored you to travel as a journalist, issues dear to our hearts and in front of our eyes are matters that you overlook and instead dive into matters that don’t benefit the Gambian football fraternity. 

Only three percent of the federation medium gives coverage and publicity regarding women’s football. Through its communication department, the Federation has yet to issue a press release indicating why the U17 and U20 failed to enter the qualifiers; the women’s football fraternity deserves answers like the league, fixtures, and venues needed to be more consistent due to bad football pitches. It needed team representatives to develop suggestions to see if the fixtures were honored. 

What signal are we showing the girls that competed in the U15, the inaugural 2022/23 CAF African Schools Football Championship played in South Africa? What message are we sending to Fortune Girls that have just won the West Coast regional tournament? The GFF U-17 Girls League Development finalist between Fortune Fc and Cobbers Fc saw Global Properties presenting a cheque of D50,000 as a token of support. 

President Lamin Kaba Bajo traveled with his entourage from March 2023 to Egypt, Mali-Argentina – Egypt, spending two weeks in the abovementioned countries and four days in Egypt. We can rant that it’s the government’s responsibility to cater to the national teams. 

However, subvention is coming for the national team, from logistics, allowances, and air tickets; therefore, where are the missing millions? If the air tickets prevent these girls from traveling, why can’t the executives contribute from their pockets? Unfortunately, they only collect if they give back to the beautiful game in the name of volunteerism.  

The government, including the Ministry and the Federation, are 6 & 9. The minister, Mr. Bakary Badjie, directed the investigation team of Alkamba Sports to Marcel Mendy, who was adamant about replying to our results and the facts gathered.

“No worries. Our hands are clean, and our consciences clear. This is a simple matter. I practiced journalism before, and as far as I know, nothing is wrong with you mentioning that an insider of the institution ABC said XYZ. Instead, it will improve your story or research because that information will determine from which perspective the interviewee will speak,” Marcel told TAT Sports. 

The Fourth vice president of the Federation and president of the women’s football association, Jainaba Cham, decline our interview. We are fully aware that she is unhappy about how things are happening in women’s football. 

FIFA invests in and supports women’s football in the Gambia, yet teams still need to participate. Kemo Ceesay can present and show the financial dealings and breakdown of funds. One clear thing, and it will be written in capital letters, is that FIFA is pumping lots of millions into the women’s game; the earlier, the better for the Federation to know that one day, they will fall short and get exposed for lackadaisically failing to support women football.

 The minister of Sports, Bakary Badjie, took 258 days due to public pressure to visit the independent stadium and report its state of affairs. However, he is far better than Kaba and his team, who have abandoned projects in Gunjur, Serekunda East, and Manjai, leading to girls playing on limited pitches. 

Concentration is on the senior team and U20. It is high time we speak; it is not about politics so that people know if you give the government a budget of 100 million, they will give you 2 million. The Federation funds the rest. 

Kemo Ceesay says things are hidden in financing football, which is a significant problem.

“During Seedy Kinteh’s time, I granted an interview when the minister of finance, Sheriff, wrote that money wasn’t available for the national team to travel and shouldn’t honor that match. It became a headline story in the Point newspaper. Jammeh was traveling and asked the Sheriff to return and do everything possible. Who told you there is no money? The team has to travel.” 

The government or the Federation must break the silence regarding women’s football matters.

“It’s unfortunate and disappointing not to see Gambian U17 and U20 participating in this competition. These girls have been playing all season long, and competitions like this allow others to excel in their careers. Career development is key. Some other African players got recognition and scouted from these tournaments. The Gambia not participating tells us how low our league is. These girls want to go far in their careers, and it’s the responsibility of the people in authority to give them that pathway where they will excel,” Journalist Seedy Sanneh told the Alkamba.

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