WOMEN’S FOO T BALL
United for a successful future Glasgow Girls FC travelled to Gambia to promote women’s football and support its development there. Both the Scottish and Gambian national associations have implemented FIFA’s ‘Live Your Goals’ campaign this year.
round 2,500 spectators gathered at the Serekunda East Mini Stadium to watch Gambia’s women’s national team play Scottish side Glasgow Girls. It was a historic match, not only because it was the Gambians’ first game in three years, but because it was the first time they had ever played an opponent from somewhere other than west Africa. Building bridges The sun shone fiercely in a clear sky and the stadium was filled with enthusiastic fans when the final whistle blew on a lively, gripping encounter that ended 1-1, a result that could hardly have been more appropriate. The players hugged each other, providing confirmation of Gambia international Veronica Malack’s comment that, “football isn’t just a sport, it means family.” The Glasgow Girls and their Gambian hosts formed close bonds over the course of the week-long trip the Scottish club made to the African nation in order to support the development of women’s football there. The visit was
to the game for women interested in playing it, and raising greater awareness of the sport. “Football builds bridges, it brings countries together, fights poverty and broadens horizons,” said Sainey Sissohore, head of women’s football in Gambia and a ‘Live Your Goals’ ambassador. The bridge between Scotland and Gambia is on a firm foundation. When the Glasgow Girls arrived they were warmly greeted with loud drums and music, and readily danced along to the catchy African rhythms. Not only did they become acquainted with the Gambian heat, they sampled a completely different culture and saw monkeys and crocodiles during what was an unforgettable experience. The same can be said of the training session the Scottish players carried out at the Gilkock Football Academy. “Over 150 children took part,” said a delighted Jim Strathdee, president of Glasgow Girls FC. Spotlight on football development Four friendly matches were organised during the trip, with the Glasgow Girls facing Red Scorpions FC, Jeshwang United FC, Interior FC and Gam-
The week was shaped by high-quality games, enthusiastic spectators and an animated exchanging of experiences.
Myers, meanwhile, was taken with the talent and quality the Africans displayed: “All of the players were agile and technically strong.” That is no surprise, as the Gambians have set themselves lofty targets. “I will only hang up my boots when Gambia have taken part at a major tournament at senior level,” said Fatou Fatty, a member of the national team and captain of the Red Scorpions. She is convinced she will not have to wait much longer: “The week we spent with the Glasgow Girls strengthened our morale and hopefully it’s motivated other girls to start playing football.” Fatty and her team-mates are eager to stay in the game once their playing days are over, either as coaches or with a role in the national association, in order to help football progress. “I want to pass on my knowledge to younger generations,” said Tamba. Myers also has plans for the future and is keen to continue offering British teams the chance to travel to far-flung countries and help increase the popularity of women’s football. “Eight thousand spectators watched the four games in Gambia,” he said. “We were overwhelmed with the attention women’s football and our visit received.” Such a response left a lasting impression on everyone involved and serves as a motivation for more. Å Annette Braun
FIFA in Gambia Within the scope of its Goal Programmes, FIFA has supported Gambia with $1,699,763
organised by Martin Myers of Adventure Kicks, who runs several projects in Gambia and has bolstered ties between the Scottish and Gambian national associations. “We want to give women’s football the attention it deserves and inspire more girls to play the game,” he said. It is no coincidence that this year both the Scottish and Gambian FAs implemented FIFA’s ‘Live Your Goals’ campaign, thereby setting themselves the task of strengthening the image of women’s football, providing easier access
bia’s women’s national team. The visitors recorded one victory, one defeat and two draws, but the results were of secondary importance; instead, the focus was on football and the opportunities it brings. The Scottish and Gambian women also shared their experiences in a series of seminars. Adama Tamba, a clinical striker for both the Red Scorpions and the national side, was particularly impressed with the Glasgow Girls’ tactics. “They were so organised and disciplined,” she enthused. “It was sheer joy to play against them.”
USD since 2002. The financial aid was partly put towards building a new football pitch in the west African country, which has enabled a greater number of women’s championships to be organised and also guaranteed youngsters more training time. Furthermore, a technical centre was established in Banjul, where seminars are held to promote the development of youth football.
T H E F I FA W E E K LY