The saying, “opportunity comes but once,” might not be applicable in Brufut’s case because two opportunities came and went yet a third opportunity comes knocking at their doors again. But will Brufutarians allow this third opportunity to slip through their hands just like the earlier two did years ago? This is a question every native of Brufut especially the elders must ponder about with lots of reflection to what the future holds for youth and sports development for the coastal village because posterity will judge everyone within that village for what role they played.
For two score years and more Brufut has produced great talents in sports. From football players to season sports administrators but despite all that, the coastal village’s ultimate dream would be an illusion if the community cannot boast of a playing ground to nurture more talents and breed more administrators.
I am buzzing with joy for the project NORGA presented before the community of Brufut thus compelled me to put up this write up urging stakeholders in the village to rise up to the challenge of providing an empty space for the high definitive edifice to be built. Listening to the good Samaritans, Mamadi Ceesay and Ba S Jabbi whose combined efforts brought the project to Brufut, I could read in their speech that Brufut has much more to win provided they have space to put up all they planned to build.
It is very clear that such an edifice can only be built on an empty land and not in the air or the Atlantic Ocean, so an empty space must be provided before the sponsors turn their backs like others did. In 2005, a group of British investors wanted to build a world class football academy for the Brufut based Gilkock Football Academy but after months of going and coming the academy could not provide a land. Four or five years ago, came some Spanish investors who formed Canarias Football Academy with the hopes of building a full-fledged academy but again, the local partners couldn’t convince the elders of the village to provide a piece of land. While some of us were still grilling with pain, another multi-million dollar company comes knocking that they wants to build a first class sports complex provided an empty space is available. Should the villagers sit and see these investors show their backs on Brufut?
If Brufut can produce players like Ebrima Jatta aka EJ, Kissima Bojang and Sainey Manneh who all played for the national team at youth level, how many of these will the village produce with modern facility to produce and develop talents. Imagine how many years it has taken the village to taste high level football. The year that money was injected to the team in the third division campaign, they won themselves an automatic spot in the second tier of football in The Gambia.
It was revealed in the unveiling of the project that the edifice will include multi-purpose sports complex with a world-class mini-stadium with artificial turf, stand pavilions supermarkets, merchandise stores, IT centre and a football academy to breed many more of the above mentioned.
Speaking at the unveiling Mamadi Ceesay who is the brainchild of the whole said funds are already available to build a one-of-a-kind mini stadium pending a land is provided at the Brufut side: “We have already secured the fund [already in Gambian banks] and we are going to build a top modern mini-stadium in The Gambia and we are hoping that we can get a land on the Brufut side and that stadium is going to have artificial turf.”
“Secondly we want to build a school in the same premises and that school will have free uniforms and lunch and we are trying to see how we can manage to get transport for the students together with a very low school fees. We also want to build football academy on the same premises and in that academy, we will bring very well-known agents that can actually help because The Gambia has so many raw talents.”
Baa Jabbi, the chairman of the Brufut Sports Committee, thanked Mamadi Ceesay and his company as well as partners for the great gesture, which he said will go a long way in developing Gambian football.
He said Brufut United has come a long way amid several challenges and hurdles to witnessing this great development, describing it as pragmatic partnership between the club and NOORGA.
“Since the early 1970s, we have been searching for waters to quench our thirst for a very desirable outcome in football. While we are in the process of searching for water, we were fortunate enough to meet a gentle man by the name Mamadi Ceesay,” he said with pride.
The president of The Gambia Football Federation (GFF), Lamin Kaba Bajo on his part stressed the importance of infrastructure in the development of football in any country, saying there cannot be any football in the absence of it.
He said: “The would-be world-class mini-stadium will provide the requisite infrastructure, and there is no football without skills. I understand there will be some training facilities for the development of skills and talents of the young ones.
“These are key because in Gambian football,” he added citing that when it comes talent The Gambia is second to none.
Speaking further, the GFF boss said the constraint lies in the development of talents because the talents, he believes, must be developed, nurtured and reoriented to a certain level to benefit the individual.
He went on: “So, therefore, to have a complex that will provide human resource development also falls very well in our programmes. We embrace the programme and we will give you all the support needed.”
The project, when completed, the GFF president said will help GFF diversify its training venues and also have second choice of hosting international matches at a different venue.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Youth and Sports, the executive director of the National Sports Council, Marcel Mendy said The Ministry of Youth and Sports has welcomed NORGA International Holding Company Ltd in Norway to The Gambia and will be happy to see the realization of a modern stadium project.
Marcel Mendy, assured the project investors of government’s support and commitment.
“I can tell you that your plans are very much in line with those of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.”
“The future of sport is in decentralization and we are very much aware of the fact that it is significant that we go back and re-decentralize our programmes and activities in order to discover talents,” he said
He cited the availability of abundant opportunities for young people, which should be capitalised on.
He emphasised the need for the right scouts to nurture talented people and challenged the Brufut United FC to make best use of the opportunity at hand.
With such support, it will be disappointing that the community of Brufut cannot provide a land to construct what could benefit the kids and grandkids of the citizens of Brufut and the environs.
As I ponder about I think of some key points that must convince the village heads to provide a land which could host such a magnificent complex.
Employment Creation: There is no doubt that from the construction of the facilities to the time the complex is up and running, the citizens of Brufut will be opportune to employment. Imagine the construction of such a multi-facet complex and think of how many people will be needed to provide labour from the construction of bricks to the painting and finishing of the building. Apart from the manual labour, the sports center will need personnel. The academy will need coaches while the school needs teachers. I am without doubt that most of the employees could come from Brufut because the village won’t run short of competence to handle these responsibilities.
Talent Creation: Yes we all argue that talents are abound in The Gambia and Brufut no exception but these talents must be identified and nurtured to become professionals and or assets tomorrow. In the case of the football academy that will be built, the catch them young policy will bear us talents that can in turn become professionals. Once they are properly nurtured and guided through a professional setting, the future will be bright for the youngsters the coastal town will breed. Apart from the academy, the school will serve as a backup to all players passing through the academy. Most Gambian players don’t think of live after football, so the school would nurture academics, future leaders but also encourage football players to take education seriously alongside football. The information center can also breed talents to occupy the countries information technology industry.
Desist from distracting pupils of Brufut Lower Basic School: It is without doubt that football activities going around the Brufut Lower Basic School is impacting negatively in the academic performance of some of the pupils who go to the afternoon shift. From Tuesday to Friday there are football matches that mostly commence at 4:30 or 5pm, a time when school is not over yet. Most teams in Brufut have a huge fan base and their singing and drumming together with the cheers from onlookers is enough distraction to teachers who love football, talk less of pupils who are supporters of some of these teams. The head of the school has no option but left for him/her there wouldn’t be any football during school days on that football field. Isn’t this a problem to the elders of the village?
Keep cool heads at the health center: The Brufut Health Center shares the same fence with the football field. So imagine how it feels laying on your sick bed reeling with pain while thunders of noise keep striking you. Imagine having a sick patient who doesn’t sleep at night due to pain but tries to go to rest during the day when chores on noise keeps blazing his or her ears. Or imagine laying on your sick bed trying to rest, yet minute after minute balls keep striking the rooftop of the building you’re admitted in. These are all worrying moments that could compel the village heads to look for an alternative for football.
Open Brufut to the wider world: Having such facilities in Brufut, will open many gates for Brufut as some European clubs can chose to come here on pre-season depending on how well the place is advertised. With sports tourism in the agenda of the tourism board, the facility could be the attraction point for tourist who wants to holiday at a sports center. That fits the advertisement for Brufut on the World Wide Web.
Allow Brufutarians to watch their team at home: Having a playable football pitch that can match that of the country’s best pitches will compel the organizers of the national league to fix matches at home for Brufut Uinted whether they are in the third, second or first division. Having heard the GFF president speak at the unveiling, when such a facility is in place, Brufutarians might have a chance of watching their national teams play in Brufut. This will cost the villagers less to watch their national team or league clubs including their beloved Brufut United.
While I send this piece to bed, with the above reasons and many more that I might not know about, I am convinced the village heads won’t deny the village such opportunities.
Author: Sang Mendy