The maiden Football Awards and Recognition Night convened by the Gambia Football Federation was held on Saturday 4th January 2020 in a night of glamor attended by the football family of the Gambia including high functionaries at the Oasis Apartments in Kololi. The event was also attended by the Minister of Youth and Sports Hon Hadrammeh Sidibeh (veteran footballer).
The event, first of its kind in the history of football in the Gambia could be a proud moment for President Lamin Kaba Bajo led Executive hence remembering and recognizing the cradles of football administrators in the Gambia since the inception of the Football Association in 1952. According to Former GFA/GFA President George Gomez who is also a member of the Awards Committee, the first football body in the Gambia was called the Banjul League that gave birth to the former Gambia Football Association (GFA) in 1952 and became affiliated to both FIFA and CAF.
The night kicked off with a moment of silence remembering fallen colleagues of football that passed away both of recent and in the past and have dedicated their lives to the growth and development of football in the Gambia.
In his welcome remarks to the guests, Awards Committee Chairman Ebou Faye first thanked members of the Committee for the good job in reaching to this event, “most especially the veteran sports journalists and administrators in the names of Alh Pap Saine, Cherno Barra Touray and Mr George Gomez who worked very hard to make this day possible and to also identify the people whose contributions over many years has brought beautiful game to where it is today”. He said the GFF Awards has now been established and will from henceforth be an annual event tp recognize, appreciate and celebrate the tremendous contributions of individuals to football development in different categories of awards. “Tonight, we will recognize all past presidents and General Secretaries that have served the Gambia Football Federation” Mr Faye also announced the Three main Awards; The President’s Award, Most Outstanding Football Personality and The Life Time Award.
For his part, GFF President Lamin Kaba Bajo said the GFF Recognition and Awards Night is meant to recognize, honor and celebrate persons that have extraordinarily contributed to football in the Gambia, either as administrators or players. “It might be difficult to precisely quantify the size of those who have dedicated their resources. knowledge and time for the development of the game in te country, but i am very certain that the Awards Committee chaired by 2nd Vice President Mr Ebou Faye and his dedicated Committee members have delivered a mechanism which made our work much easier”.
Mr Bajo noted that the maiden edition of the Awards Night is only to recognize all the past Presidents and General Secretaries of the then Gambia Football Association and now Gambia Football Federation who have served the Organization with selfless service, dedication and commitment. The GFF Boss felicitated members of the Awards and Legends Identification Committee who worked very hard duirng the past several months to make this day possible. “I commend and salute members of the Legends Identification Committee who have helped identify our veteran football players and administrators whose several years of hard work and often preseason sacrifices contributed to the development of football in the country”.
Youth and Sports Minister Hon Hadrammeh Sidibeh thanked the GFF for the positive foresight for the first time in Gambian football history for an Awards Night. He congratulated the Football leadership for the gigantic strides achived over the period and hailed them for their commitment dedication and assured the GFF of government’s continuous support to the football. The former Wallidan player noted that football “should bring us together as a people rather than disintegrating us”. He used the occasion to urge the football family to forget their differences and unite for the development of the beautiful game.
The night also culminated in the formal naming of Blocks at the National Technical Training Center in Yundum. In announcing the adopted names, Awards Committee Chairman Ebou Faye first cited the reasons for the wisdom generated by the GFF saying ” due to their tremendous and sacrificial work they have done to football in the Gambia”, the GFF have decided to name the facilities at the National Technical Training Center in Yundum to the following people:
GFF Football Hotel Hall Alh OB Conateh
GFF Admin and Technical Block Alh Houssainou MM Njie
GFF Football Main Building Alh Omar Sey
Artificial Turf Pitch at NTTC Alh Ousaman Saho
Grass Pitch at NTTC Alh Biri Njie
President’s Award Alh Momodou Njie (BIRI BIRI)
Most Outstanding Football Personality Alh Omar Sey (Deceased)
Life Time Achievement Award Alh OB Conateh ( Fisco)
CITATION FOR ALH MOMODOU NJIE (BIRI BIRI)
Born in Banjul in the late ’40s, the man to be named as the President’s Award Nominee attended Albion Primary School at Stanley Street in Banjul, St Mary’s Primary and Crab Island Secondary Modern Schools. He started playing football in the streets of Banjul and was the captain of the Crab Island school team. His qualities were first observed by the late Alhagi Ebou Conteh who introduced him to league football in 1963 with Black Stars a Second Division team. He played only one match for Black Stars and was promoted the very next day to the 1st Division team Black Diamonds and played in their cup final the same day.
During his playing days in The Gambia he was the player that every team wanted to have on its side. He went on to play for White Phantoms, Arrance, Augustinians and Wallidan, winning trophies and medals with all these teams.
He was first selected for the national team in 1963 when he was still going to school and was an automatic choice for selection in the national team until 1985 – a staggering 22 years. He continued playing for his last team Wallidan until 1987 when he finally decided to hang up his boots.
He played against teams from Senegal, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Cote d’ Ivoire, and Sierra Leone and was very well known, admired and respected in all these countries.
In 1965 after playing against Sierra Leone he was signed by Black Pool in Sierra Leone as a semi professional.
In 1970 he was invited for trials with Derby County Football Club then a 1st Division English League Club.
In 1972 he turned professional and signed for a Danish 1st club B1901.
In 1973 he signed a 5year contract with Seville FC a 1st Division team in Spain.
In 1978 he returned to Denmark and played for Herfolio FC until 1981 when he returned to The Gambia and continued playing with Wallidan.
CITATION FOR ALH OMAR SEY (DECEASED)
He was born in Basse in the Upper River Region and brought up in Banjul where he completed his high school and later proceeded to the United States of America to pursue a degree in Industrial Psychology. After finishing his studies, he became a lecturer at the Yundum College until the late 1970s when government first created the Department of Youth and Sports when he was asked to head the Department by the then Minister for Sports Alhaji MC Cham. The young man at this time was an active FIFA Referee playing across Africa and the world at large on both FIFA and CAF sanctioned matches.
It came in the mid-1970s when a vacancy for membership in the CAF Executive Committee was opened for affiliated members, The Gambia government through the Ministries of Youth and Sports and Foreign Affairs made efforts to have Mr. Sey elected into the Continental Committee. Former Minister of Youth and Sports MC Cham took up the initiative with support from his cabinet colleague Lamin Kiti Jabang of Foreign Affairs and approached Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara for the government to dispatch a special envoy to canvass support across Africa for support to Mr. Sey’s candidature. He later won the contest against Ckeikh Kouyateh of Mali.
He became the first Gambian to have served in the CAF Executive Committee and rose through the ranks to become the first Chairman of the CAF Referees Committee. He heightened his accolade when he went into the ranks of FIFA to become the trusted confidant of former President Joao Havelenge who later recommended him to take up the Presidency of CAF.
CITATION FOR ALH OB CONATEH
He was born on 1st November 1937 in Banjul, The Gambia. A household name in the country and around the sub-region: As a young and energetic smart boy who will later become an icon in Gambian football, he attended St. Augustine’s High School and had a professional training in merchandise, marketing and entrepreneurship at the United Africa Company (UAC) in Lagos, Nigeria, where he was later made the manager of Kingsway Supermarket, one of the subsidiaries of UAC. He was also the Administrative Manager of The Gambia Fisheries Ltd and the sole owner and Chief Executive Officer of the National Partnership Enterprises (NPE) Sea Food Processing Company and sole owner and chairman of a renowned Trawling Agency.
He never played football though but has always been a keen admirer and in 1969, through one of his many philanthropic gestures, founded what is regarded as one of the most successful stories in Gambian football, the birth of one of the most successful clubs in Gambian football.
A football baron, an athlete during his youth days and later a seasoned administrator par excellence, he was a devastating cricketer and an ex-national cycling champion. A true entrepreneur in all definitions, this living legend has done so much for the development of football, in The Gambia and beyond and has impacted positively on the lives of many. The founding father of Gambia’s most successful football club, and won several awards in and outside of the country. In 1986, he was decorated with the prestigious honor of the Insignia of Member of the Republic of The Gambia (MRG); Officer of the National Order of the Republic of Cote d’ Ivoire in 1995; inducted into the Hall of Fame as National Cycling Champion, International Cricketer.
All Past Presidents and General Secretaries are engraved in a plague and would be placed at the GFF Secretariat in Kanifing and National Technical Training Center in Yundum. Records have it that the first GFA/GFF President was Justice JR Forster. A High Court judge who became President from 1952 to 1957. Mr MC Cham was the longest serving President from 1966-1977. Other Past Presidents include BO Semega Janneh (1957-1966), Alh Ebrima Malick Samba (1977-1979), Bucar Fofana (1979-1986). There were eighteen (18) former General Secretaries ranging from RC Roscoe (1952-1959), M O Janneh (1960-1963) amongst others.
courtesy of Gambiaff.org