GAMBIA FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION DISBANDED BY MINISTRY OF SPORTS

Gambia FA_logoBarely twenty four after Gambia lost to Algeria in the opening stages of the 2013 prelimianry Cup of Nations qualifiers, the Gambian ministry of Youth and Sports hastily convened a press conference to announce the dissolution of the Football Association.

Addressing a press conference Friday afternoon at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Alieu K Jammeh, while admitting that it was a painful decision, said it was necessary after government lost confidence in the GFA executive because Gambian football failed to make a headway in both continental and international competitions.

His words: “It was necessary, it was an emergency and we could not sleep over it. As responsible public servants, we need to get the word out and here we are gathered today to share with you and I will go straight to the point that the Gambia Football Association from today [Friday, 2nd March, 2012] has been dissolved.

Before I give you further reasons as to why we took this very painful but essential decision, I want to remind you that if you could recall, in the first cabinet meeting chaired by His Excellency the president, aired over the media, when quite a good number of us were sworn-in, the president said clearly and very loudly that he has got a new mandate and so it’s not going to be business as usual.

He has a new mandate after being elected unprecedentedly with a big margin and in his mind, he feels that he needs to give back to the public by delivering and addressing their needs and this is the president talking. So I believe all of us must have heard it and so he said those of you that I am employing, is to work and help me on this journey to deliver the expectations of the public. Therefore, we are answering to the cry of the public, and what are those cries? The public for a long time including you the media had wanted the development of sports particularly football that can yield us results.

At the level of the Ministry, we have tried numerous ways -the Ministry and government by extension continue to create the enabling environment and provide the resources where necessary and hope that those of us who have the technical expertise and were entrusted with the technical management of the development of sports and football in particular will also do so but unfortunately, our expectations in that aspect are lacking and so we thought it as government that it cannot be business as usual in this industry of football that we have to change, and change we have done.”

The Youth and Sports minister used the opportunity to thank the members of the dissolved executive whom according to him, have contributed immensely towards the development of football in the country. However, he quickly noted that, “it is a new era, and we are thinking big and with the assessment of the general public in thinking big with big ideas, they [dissolved executive members] don’t fit into that equation that was why they were asked to excuse themselves by dissolving the executive. We want to move forward to the next level, to qualify to continental and international championships and we think we need to reorganise, restructure and to regenerate by building a new team”.

He then promised that they will be working to re-adjust the technical department as soon as possible by putting in place an interim management team that will be entrusted with the following responsibilities: to review the constitution of the FA to match with the constitution of FIFA, and to conduct a congress or a general assembly as soon as possible with the hope that a new team will be put in place in the soonest possible time.

The minister also took the opportunity to remind all those entrusted with the management of other sporting associations in the country that things cannot be personal and that the fact that they call themselves national associations means they have to fulfill the set up criteria, one of which is to have a national character and a body that is elected responsibly and in a transparent manner. He also warned them that it will not be business as usual. “We want to take sports forward in this country, we want to benefit from sports and we have to take it to the grassroots level. If anybody cannot satisfy that, don’t call yourself a national association,” he added.

Minister Jammeh also assured that the government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports will work very hard to decentralise and diversify sports. He said they want to ensure a very organised football, basketball and athletics federations that will go to the regions and organise national leagues in order to identify talents for the country’s national teams.

He said Prsident Jammeh’s desire for Gambia to be winning gold medals can only be realised if the management of the national associations is entrusted to people who have the technical skills and the capabilities. He went on to advise anyone that cannot function in his/her responsibilities to honestly step aside. He made it clear that sports need to move forward while the wrangles, personality interest and the backstabbing need to cease, because they are at the detriment of this country.

Speaking earlier, Mambanyick Njie, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, noted that the government through his ministry has given immense support to the GFA over the years, but saw no result as the sport continues to retrogress.While recalling the team’s dismal performance in Wednesday’s African Cup of Nations qualifier defeat to Algeria in Banjul, he was quick to add that the decision to dissolve the GFA wasn’t taken based on one game, but on what has been going on for the past one year.

He further said that the current executive of the GFA is no longer sustainable, and that having made their consultations as wide as possible, they arrived at the conclusion that the executive of the GFA no longer has the confidence of the Ministry to run football in the country.

The permanent secretary also informed the gathering that the fears of Gambians concerning the repercussions of this unprecedented decision at the FIFA level has already been addressed. He assured that the interim committee will be unveiled as soon as possible. PS Njie also described the current constitution of the GFA as unconstitutional, adding that it didn’t meet international standards.

He appealed for the current national team coach Peter Bonu Johnson to be given time before he could be assessed, while revealing that they were not in agreement with the decision to appoint Paul Put as the first team coach in the first place, but made the move to satisfy the FA.

The press conference was chaired by the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Kumba Conateh-Nam. The dissolved GFA executive had Seedy Kinteh as president; Omar Sompo Ceesay, first vice president; Lamin King Kolley, second vice president; and Hala Samba, third vice president.

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