By Ibrahim Ridwan Asante
Ex-Norway international Pa-Modou Kah says that he wants to coach The Gambia, where he was born, one day.
The 39-year-old has just begun his first job as a senior coach at Canadian Premier League side Pacific FC.
Kah was born in the Gambian capital Banjul but left at the age of eight to join his father, an ex-international, in Norway.
“It’s a dream of mine to lead my country (The Gambia) in the future, but for now my focus is on Pacific FC. I need to prove myself here and build my career first,” he told BBC Sport.
”Africa should invest in their own coaches and develop them. To see Algeria and Senegal in the final of African Nations Cup made me proud.
”Two African coaches, who made their living as professional footballers in Europe, going back to lead their nations, that showed me that we have great young coaches coming up.
With the Scorpions yet to qualify for a first Africa Cup of Nations, Kah is adamant there is hope for the small West African country.
“I believe The Gambia has lots of talents. We have Omar Colley playing in Italy (Sampdoria) and lots of players in European leagues,” he said.
“A strong vision and structure is needed for the country to be successful and I believe there are great coaches in The Gambia to lead our nation.”
Kah says he has no regrets over his decision to play for Norway, who he earned 10 caps for, rather than the Scorpions.
“I do not regret not playing for The Gambia, because back then our country wasn’t a strong football nation and we didn’t have the structure that was needed,” he explained.
“Did wish I played for them (The Gambia)? Absolutely, because that’s my country.
“For me it was a choice of which country provided the best opportunity to have a football career.
“I chose Norway because chances were bigger and having a European passport made it easier for me to be seen and move at that time.
“As a Gambian I’m proud to be the first fully black man beside John Carew (mixed race) to play for the country. I paved the way for the next generation of immigrant kids in Norway.
“Now it’s a norm and we have another Gambian in Joshua King playing for Norway. It makes me proud to see the what the power of football can do.
“If social media was around during my time growing up it would have been a world sensation seeing a fully black man playing for the Norwegian National team.
“I also have Norway to be thankful as it allowed me to have the career I had and now embark this new journey as a coach.”
A step up to coaching
After beginning his playing career in Norway at Valerenga he moved to neighbouring Sweden and AIK before stints with Dutch side Roda JC, Al Khor and Qatar SC in Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia’s Al-Wehda.
He then move to north America’s Major League Soccer where he played for Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps, where he began his coaching career as an assistant.
In January Pacific FC, who are based in Victoria British Columbia, announced the hiring of the former assistant coach at MLS side Cincinnati FC for the 2020 season.
“Being appointed as a Head Coach is a responsibility I am proud of and very excited about,” he said.
“The responsibility to lead a club and help it grow is something I always believed in and wanted to do.
“I know the outside world will be looking at me and be ready to judge or criticize me.
“Which is fine, because I know the pressure and expectation I set for myself and that’s the only thing that matters to me.
“The most important responsibility I have is towards the players and the club. Which is to get the best out of each other every day and create a culture and chemistry.
“The trust between the club and I is very important and having that makes my job a lot easier. The vision and philosophy of the club are aligned with mine, which made it a great fit.
“Hopefully we can have success together. We are a driven club from the owners down to the players, staff, fans and community.”
first published by BBC SPORTS AFRICA