The Award-winning Gambian International Coach, Matarr M’boge, who recently signed for DC United FC in Washington DC to coach and prepare the Loudoun U19 youth team, has granted a rare interview to TAT sports, where he opened up on various issues, including his move to the US and the state of Gambian football.
He spoke at length about his new experience, environment, and why the Gambia lost this mighty talent to the US. He says the national team can hurt its opponents in Ivory Coast with our speed within the scorpions.
Mattar worked as a coach in the national team setup for seven years and spent most of his time on the U20, where he had lots of success as he qualified the Gambia U20 to its second Youth World Cup before COVID-19 came. He was a one-time assistant coach of Tom Saintfiet.
Mboge has guided Loudoun United FC U19 to the playoff in the US, and he is elated.
“I am enjoying my new role compared to what I was doing in the Gambia. Bringing professional footballers to the phase of progress because when you play for Loudoun Utd U19, your next step of the ladder is to play in the A team, which is the MLS.”
“England was a great place to start because you had all the facilities as a sportsman, athlete and a coach. I was spoilt; looking at the facilities here is just phenomenal. It’s a luxury to use DC United training facilities, too.”
“Soccer in the US is not among the top two sports in the country yet; it’s still growing in terms of what coaches like me can bring, which is experience. Give that extra explanation and details about why certain things happen in the field and what their opponent thinks. It’s a level of detail that comes with loving and being obsessed with the game. Soccer is the greatest sport, and I have only known soccer. From what people tell me, my style, passion, and enthusiasm came from my love for the game. We meet people among players and coaches that soccer is not their first love, and it can always be difficult to get them on board. But at the same time, I enjoy helping players discover more about this sport, helping other coaches learn more about the sport.”
Many have called for Coach Mboge to handle the national team or even stay in the Gambia, but the former Real de Banjul coach wants progress, challenges, and development.
“People will always tell you about the push and pull factor. I felt that, but I also felt that there was no way for me to progress. I enjoyed my time with the U20s. There was another challenge to go with the U23, but the reality was I was allowed to stay with DC or go back to the Gambia. Ultimately, I just had to take this opportunity; I owe it to the players who have played under me, the coaching staff, the government, and the Federation. To get this position, it wasn’t just a one-man show. Just because the country stood behind me and won those great trophies, those are unforgettable moments.”
“For me, the biggest trophy is when I turn on the TV or I follow these players I have coached, seeing them as kids and now playing professionally, earning a living. That’s the biggest medal and trophy for me.”
Challenges for the development of Gambian football from a coaching perspective
“Many people go into coaching without the passion; you need a bit of humility obsession. Put yourself behind others. Focus on getting the basics, the knowledge, and success is developing and impacting players. When you leave something on them, that’s the impact. Giving the tools to players to succeed,” Coach Mboge told TAT Editor Sainey Marenah.
“I tried to promote as many coaches as possible and push education among coaches, too. Funding was always challenging when we tried to organize coaching courses in the country; I even tried to send coaches to Morocco, for example. All this was to gear my colleagues to upgrade themselves, have confidence, and have that professional love for the game where you are on with it 24/7. “
Is it time for Africans to switch to home-based coaches?
“It’s always a question that always comes up. The best coach for the job could be of any nationality. The current coach has done a fantastic job assimilating himself with the country. Sometimes, as Africans, when we see our fellow Africans, instead of uplifting them, we put up hurdles and ladders, and they have to prove extra. Sometimes, one can come who deserves less and end up earning the spot,’ he said, Adding:
“Why a local is inferior all of a sudden? It depends on an individual and what you think they can bring to the table; if that individual is given any opportunity, then you will never know what they can do.”
“I don’t believe foreign coaches are better than local coaches. Senegal was an African champion with a local coach, and Morocco reached the World Cup quarterfinals with a local coach. Again, much research will be done on homegrown coaches on foreign coaches that can bring success and success. Again, the hurdle they face is the connection with the country unless they spend the majority of their life in the country. Each situation is unique, but for me, when I look at the cathedral of African coaches in the continent doing extremely well, the Mauritania coach, for example, all these coaches having success will be able to go to the next level. Can we look at these coaches and say, well, they have success, and can we look within Africa rather than always running to the West? That’s for me, where we have to try to get to. If we cannot get somebody from our country, we can at least get someone from the continent who understands African football.”
Back-to-Back AFCON for the Gambia
“It was a pride to turn to my counterparts and tell them that the Gambia will be in Ivory Coast because we have many nationalities here. I am so proud to see these players play at this level. There’s zero pressure on them; the pressure will be on those countries rather than us. With a fully fit squad, they can go one step further. But it’s seeing how every one of them from here and when the competition starts is. Once the competition starts, you look at how one can avoid knocks; who is available for these games? how much rest time they have, and how much squad rotation there is; it is three tough games they will need every minute and hours of rest.” Mboge added.