There were scenes of jubilation in Soma over the weekend amidst hopes that the strive towards positing women’s football as the future of the Gambian game went up a notch further.
Punctuated by pomp and fanfare, The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) President Mr. Lamin Kabba Bajo formerly launched a FIFA women’s football development project in the country at the Jarra Soma Mini Stadium on Sunday. Targeting players from the age of 17 and below, the program dubbed GFF/FIFA U-17 Girls Developmental League, seeks to further transform the feminine game having already made it one of the most popular sporting disciplines in The Gambia.
The Program, which will be rolled out across every nook and cranny of this country, will give girls equal opportunities to get exposed to the basics of the game at the right age. It also seeks to build a strong foundation for women’s football nationwide, nurture the talents to ensuring that in terms of achieving the set goals and objectives, The Gambia will produce one of the best age category national teams in the next five years.
“This is yet another historic event in football development in this country especially women’s football,” Mr. Bajo, himself a champion of women’s football, said at the launch of the program.
This program, he added, was conceived by the GFF, initially from the Technical Department where the Women’s Football Unit falls under and then the process went through the approval of the GFF Executive Committee and eventually submitted to FIFA after a thorough review before been approved.
“This is one component of the eight areas or activities in the project. This is the league development targeting the U-17 in addition to supporting our leagues in the first, second and third divisions. I, therefore, strongly advised the participating teams to make sure that the kids with the right ages are the ones taking part as the GFF will not compromise age fraud,” Mr. Bajo affirmed.
Speaking earlier, the third Vice President Rtd. Gen. Langtombong Tamba, reiterated Football House’s commitment in the promotion of the women’s game and called on the girls to make best use of the opportunity. He assured them that the Federation will continue to create the environment for them to realise their dreams of becoming professional footballers.
Women’s football, according to Mrs. Sainey Sissohore M’boge, is on the right track in The Gambia. She went further to recognise the commitment of the Federation’s leadership towards to the feminine game, thanking both the GFF and FIFA for implementing the project.
“Women’s football is rapidly growing in The Gambia. Girls and women are making the transition from playing at school level to joining the elite clubs to develop their careers. Through the GFF and FIFA we have the opportunity to strengthen women’s football development at the regional level and accelerate all aspect of women’s football through our strategic plan of activities,” Mrs. Sissohore-M’boge, the Women’s Football Coordinator at the GFF asserted.
Other speakers including the Technical Director Sang Ndong and Hakibu Jajursey the Vice President of the Lower River Region Football Association both expressed delight with the program and noted that grassroots football is the future of the women’s game in the country.
The league will feature 14 teams drawn from the four provincial regions as follows: North Bank Region: Farafeni, Mansawally and Sabach Sanjal; Central River Region: Kudang FC, Bansang FC, Changai FC and Wassu FC; Upper River Region: T-Junction FC, Kuteh Jumbulu FC and Kerewan FC and Lower River Region: Hart FC, Jappineh FC, Bureng FC and Dragon FC.
The tournament will be played in a round robin format with the two group leaders set to play in a final to determine the champion. A similar program will soon be rolled out in the Greater Banjul Area to bring together teams from Kanifing, Banjul and the West Coast Regions.