UK-Gambians summer soccer tourney ends
Thursday, July 16, 2009
A colourful Gambian gathering spent a rainy day in Birmingham partaking in the annual football tourney on Saturday.
The one day event remains the single largest gathering of Gambians at any given time with close to 500 attending this year. Graced by the presence of high profile Gambian footballers of long and recent past generations, the crowd formed teams around their locality of residence in the UK and played a knock out. They came from Watford, Leeds, Luton, Birmingham, Wakefield, Dudley, Reading and Manchester.
Birmingham emerged as new champions but more by circumstances than merit according to Observers. Because of the rain, the semi final between former champions and top favourites Luton, and Birmingham was changed from a normal match to just penalty shots to save time.
Luton, with its sound technical team led by former Gambian international keeper Wabdeh Njie, therefore had no chance to show-case their form and ability and lost 5-4 to Birmingham who marched on to beat Leeds 2-1 for the trophy.
Luton fans were heart-broken, knowing fully well that they would have beaten their opponents if a normal match was played. After all they had beaten Birmingham in the opening match with former Real de Banjul player, Single Joof, scoring both goals before moving to beat Reading 2-1 with former Wallidan striker, Buba Sonko, and Single Joof netting the goals. After that match, Luton was sure of a semi-final place so coach Wandeh Njie rested top players as they meet Manchester to complete the first round fixtures.
Manchester capitalised on a weak Luton fixture and won 4-1 as opposed to Luton's only reply from Lai Jobe. The event was hailed by legendary Gambian footballers including the outstanding former international Malleh Wadda, former referee Bola Corker, Edrissa Sonko and great sports enthusiast Kuru Kongira.
Ebrima Njie, a Gambian from Wakefield, praised the organisation of such an event and pointed out its importance in bringing the Gambian community together in friendship. He however called for better referees next time round to smoothen matters.
Lamin Drammeh from Birmingham, said he was pleased with the fulfilment of the objectives of the day. He used the occasion to ask for help towards the realisation of a Gambian own mosque in Birmingham. Meanwhile attention now focuses on Luton where a similar but even bigger event will take place on August 8.
Author: by Momodou Max Jallow, Luton