Delegates drawn from across the country over the weekend converged on the Friendship Hotel in Bakau to finally amend and adopt the Draft Constitution of the Gambia Football Association (GFA) that has in the past months sparked so much controversy among football stakeholders.
Speaking earlier during the opening ceremony, the vice chairman of the GFA Normalisation Committee, Sey, began by expressing delight at the turnout of delegates. "We have consulted wide and broad, top and down and with everybody on this draft constitution and that has reflected in the constitution," he stated.
He thanked FIFA for its guidance and contribution during the process of drafting the constitution, while appealing for continuous and unwavering support in all areas of football development. He also admitted that it is not going to be easy to actualise and implement the constitution alone.
The GFA NC Spokesperson was also full of praises for the minister of Youth and Sports for his technical, moral, and financial support to the Committee, as well as President Jammeh for his benevolent support and advice throughout the process.
On his part, Primo Carvaro, the FIFA delegate, began by extending FIFA's warmest greetings to the Gambian football fraternity. He said that they are closely and keenly following the developments in the GFA.
He commended the Committee for a tremendous job, noting that it has been working very hard with real commitment. "It is a challenge for you to adopt the constitution. We have to rationalise the set-up of football and we ask the delegates to kindly accept the draft constitution because this is what we think is the best for GFA and I will be disappointed if the delegates fail to adopt the constitution," he added.
While urging for more investment in youths, Carvaro assured that FIFA will come with full force to support as soon as there is a new team.
Officially declaring the congress open, the Youth and Sports minister, Alieu K. Jammeh, advised the delegates to make best use of the congress by joining the force of progress and not retrogress of Gambian football.
He used the opportunity to inform the delegates that the president who has been very supportive to the cause of football is highly informed and involved, in football particular. "It is incumbent upon all of us to thank and be grateful to the president for his support to football from 1994 to date. Government under the leadership of President Jammeh will continue to give the support where necessary," he said.
The Youth and Sports minister reminded the delegates that the changes in the draft constitution is meant to empower stakeholders and to make sure that football is run more efficiently across the country. "We are ready to take essential steps to develop football. However, government will not run football but will give the fullest support," he further stated.
Minister Jammeh used the congress to inform the FIFA delegate of the president's recent surprise package to the U-17 female team that participated at the World Cup in Azerbaijan.
Post-congress press conference
However, despite the adoption of the Constitution by the delegates, Alhaji Omar Sey, Minister Jammeh and Primo Carvaro, during a press conference after the congress said they were disappointed that the delegates made series of amendments to the draft presented to them, which they said is not the best way forward for Gambian football.