U13-U15 Talent Scouting: GFF Responds to Unhappy Education Ministry 

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The Gambia Football Federation announced on Monday, April 22, 2024, the commencement of the second phase of the GFF and FIFA Talent Development Scheme Project (TDS), which allows them to scout U13 and U15 footballers, mainly from schools and academies across the country. 

Barely less than a week from the start of the countrywide tour, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) issued a directive to all public and private schools across the country not to allow their students to partake in the purported scouting without consultation with their Permanent Secretary. 

This counter-release left many football enthusiasts wondering why the Ministry disallows students from participating in the GFF’s talent scouting, which focuses on schools and academies in the country. 

Meanwhile, the Alkamba Times spoke to a source closer to the Ministry, and the insider highlighted that the directive was given because the GFF did not follow due process in involving schools. ‘The children are often not given what they deserve.’

“It is not a matter of school program or not, but the moment you stated schools and academies, then students are directly involved and under MoBSE,” the source argued.

“If the parent body responsible for school football, the Ministry, the Regional Directors, the Principals, and the PE teachers are not informed and students are picked from schools and are involved in such activities, it will be deemed improper. The Ministry can stop them. It is all about the due process and letting the children be given what they deserve.” 

However, a finding made by this medium also established that another main factor behind the restriction of students is an alleged unfair treatment of the Federation towards its allied association, the Gambia School Football Association (GSFA), the body responsible for school football under the Ministry. 

Members of the association have raised concerns over the ongoing scouting and described it as a scam by the Federation, claiming it is not the GFF’s responsibility to conduct such football trials given the association’s existence. 

The association is also stressed over the unpaid funds allocated for the winners of the CAF School Football Championship, which took place in South Africa last year. Scan Aid of the Gambia became the eventual winner.

They also questioned the insufficient benefits received by the schools participating in the recently concluded WAFU-Zone A school football championship in Mauritania 2024. 

In response to these matters, the GFF’s Communication Director, Baboucarr Camara, stated that the program is a FIFA initiative called the TALENT DEVELOPMENT SCHEME (TDS), launched in 2023. Its objective is to create permanent regional and national U13 and U15 teams. 

“It is evident that the targeted ages fall within the category of school-going children. The GFF does not directly work with schools but with youths who fall within the aforementioned ages. This is a FIFA program, and it is the responsibility of the GFF grassroots football unit to run it,” Camara said. 

Regarding the CAF championship funds, the Federation communication man said, “The funds from the CAF school football championship are not given cash. The fund is given in kind in the form of development projects to the schools, and their administrators know this.”

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