Major General Lang Tombong Tamba, first vice-president of the Gambia Football Association who doubles as the chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, has expressed his disappointment with the turnout for Gambia Under-17’s last weekend home match against Sierra Leone in the first leg qualifying round for the 2009 CAF U-17 championship finals in Algeria.
The Baby Scorpions thrashed their visitors 4-1 in a thrilling encounter watched by less than a 1000 spectators, and according to the GFA number 2, such a turnout is not a good sign for the development of our football.
He said The Gambia’s football lovers should support all categories of national teams, more especially the Under-17 team, which is the embryo of other national teams.
“We have to support this youngsters because they will rise up to play in the senior teams in the near future. Gambians should take ownership of the national teams and ensure that all categories receive their unwavering support,” he said.
Tamba said low turnout in the home games would translate into low sale of tickets, noting that this will not help the Football Association in its bid to develop the trade.
“The amount realised from the sale of tickets during Sunday’s game could not even pay the air tickets of the match officials, yet we have pay for the match bonuses, accommodations and other expenses.
So the fans have a great role to play as well as the private sector. Africell has been very supportive to us, and I hope that other institutions would emulate its kind gesture,” Tamba concluded.
The Gambia’s biggest success in international football has come at Under-17 level when the country hosted and won the 2005 CAF Under 17 championship in Banjul. The same team, which used to be the fans’ idol, went ahead to beat both Brazil and Qatar in the group stage of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup held in the same year in Peru.
However, the Under 17 team started to lose support when they were eliminated by Senegal in the first round of the 2007 qualifiers.