Can Veterans Help Gambian Football?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The report that the Gambian Veteran footballers surpassed their Senegalese rivals in their return match in Dakar brings further cause for celebration following the Under-17 weekend victory over Sierra Leone.

It is very encouraging to say the least, that veterans of the national team are bringing more fire to the rebirth of football prowess and enthusiasm in this country.

According to Team Manager, Baboucar Joof, the match was exciting with discipline and fine sportsmanship on each side. “The team mounted a good series of attacks,” he explained, “but the Senegalese goalie was really too good.” He went further to explain that the agility and competence of the opposing goalie did cause some frustration, and kept the team from scoring three or even four goals in the first 80 minutes of the match and it was not till that time that only one goal was finally registered.”

Manager Joof expressed happiness that the team finally however got the winning goal, thanks to a determined combined attack from Ebou Debuwa and Baboucarr Sowe alias “Laos”.

In giving the background to the event, a spokesman of the Veterans organization indicated that the main objective of the trip was to undertake a joint effort with Senegalese counterparts to start preaching the historical unity and familial relations of our two countries. This is important, it is claimed, in light especially of the impending big match between the Gambian Scorpions and the Senegalese Lions to take place in Dakar on 11th October only four weeks and some days ahead.

It would be recalled that some problems arose in Dakar in 2003 during the World Cup/ African Cup qualifiers of that year, leading to serious fighting and throwing of stones between fans of both sides. The spectacle was indeed ugly and was condemned by all football authorities and people of good sense. Why should two countries of the same  ancestry start inflicting serious injuries on each other because of a football match, however important?!

This is considered illogical also as sports is supposed to join people and not divide them.

It is hoped therefore that the joint effort of the Veterans yields the best results, coming from personalities who are well known and respected in football.

Furthermore, steps should be taken by all authorities concerned to prevent any ugly scenes now or any time in the future. It should be also remembered that there were faults on both sides, and so the matter should be addressed comprehensively at both national levels.

Collaboration between Gambian and Senegalese State and football authorities should be strengthened and maintained throughout the period of the games. Security arrangements should be stepped up.

Importantly the public should be adequately sensitized to respect crowd control and give all cooperation for a successful and trouble-free event. We have also been informed that Gambian football super-star, Alhagi Njie “Biri” was honoured by the Senegalese Veterans association. This calls to mind that it would be praiseworthy if a fitting honour could be given to Biri by the Gambian football authorities and fans. The ‘old hands’ should also try to assist football and young football players in this country.

Lastly, we wish that the Veterans programme grows from strength to strength and spreads as a sub-regional event.

We hope also that the ‘old legs’ can keep up the pressure. Good Luck and Congratulations!