Refereeing the beautiful game is as challenging as playing it. To orchestrate at least a 90 minutes match with high intensity, which includes roaring of thousands of vibrant fans, at times attacked, bullied or even assaulted, then one has to be physically and psychologically fit and above all brave.
To err is human, so do referees, which is human imperfection. But many a times, refs are accused of day light robbery on certain decisions, causing a great deal. However, there are some masterpiece officiating which will forever engraved in the hearts and minds of football fans.
But with the intervention of the video assistant referee ‘VAR’, so many microscopic angles are easily spotted, thus making the job easier. Well some people still argue that it should be left the old way because myopic decisions are still made.
Time has changed and the game has evolved allowing the women folk to take charge not only female football matches, but high profile male matches as well.
The West is known for being at the fore front when it comes to gender equality.
UEFA super cup final between two premier league giants, Chelsea and Liverpool, was officiated by French female referee Stephanie Frappart, assisted by Manuella Nicolosi of Italy and Michelle O’neill of the republic of Ireland, all women, on august 13 2019 in which Liverpool won on penalties after they drew 2-2.
In The Gambia, they are on the increase. Bakau born Adama Jawo is among the nation’s elite.
In an exclusive interview with Logic Sport news, she openly detailed her journey in the game.
“I was born and raised in Bakau, in an extended and sporting family. My father was a basket ball player and my mother was an athlete representing Kombo Dasilami.”
“I started playing football in school, at Bakau lower basic, then to the upper basic. I passed through Saul Sowe’s GIFT academy, were I was opportune to be part of the team that participated in the 2005 Norway Cup in Norway.”
“At senior level, I played and won 3 league cups and 2 FA cups with Red Scorpions in the GFF female first division league before hanging my boots. My twin sister Awa Jawo is still playing there and she’s the present skipper.”
“The reason i ventured into refereeing was, I’ve been following female football on TV and seeing female referees lured me. That’s how i was inspired. So I told my parents about my ambition and it was okay with my mother but my father was totally against it because his fear was that his little girl might be assaulted by hostile fans or players. But I managed to convince him in the end.”
Adama suffered prejudice in the hands of football fans. “Go home and cook! Go launder clothes! Go get marry! You do not belong here!”, “they said to me.“
Her father’s greatest fear did come to pass when she was officiating a match at the Serekunda West mini stadium. A fan threw a stone at her that landed on her face, an inch away from her eye. Her face was left swollen. Despite all that, Adama never for a second thought of quitting but continue her work and passion.
Her love affair with the beautiful game is red hot. She jumped over the broom with former defender of Gambia Armed Force FC, Real de Banjul FC, Hawks FC and Marimo FC Ousman Jarju. The love birds have now welcomed their second baby girl.
“I met Ousman during a “Natwettan” season in Bakau. He was playing for BK Milan then KGI, were I was part of the technical side. The rest is history.”
“Being a wife, mother and a referee is quite challenging. But i always make sure that i cater time for all. But, family comes first and I thank God for the wonderful husband I have. He takes care of the kids when duty calls. He is very supportive and encouraging.”
Under table payment is rotting the game to the core. But under cover journalists are also on a crusade exposing corrupt officials.
“I have never been approached for bribery in order to manipulate a match and if anyone does, I will blow the whistle and expose the individual, regardless of who you are.”
“I would like the Gambia Football Referee Association to encourage more and more women to come on board and be referees.”
“My dream is to reach the level of Papa Bakary Gassama, my icon. He is someone I look up to. Seeing him performing well on the international stage makes me a proud Gambian.”
“Well if I retire in the future, I will either be a referee instructor or a football coach because football is my DNA.”
By: Gabriel Joof
Logic Sport News