The Football Association of Wales (FAW) were recently welcomed to The Gambia to deliver expert Coach Education and football sessions as part of a collaborative project, working alongside The Gambia Football Federation (GFF), Jambarr Football Academy (Sanchaba) and the Goodwill Ambassador for The Gambia, Tijan Jaiteh.
The opportunity to visit The Gambia and deliver these sessions was supported and funded through the UEFA Assist Programme.
UEFA launched Assist, a football development programme, in 2017, with the objective to share the experience and know-how of UEFA and its member associations outside of Europe.
The Pel Droed I Sanchaba project aims to provide more opportunities to play football in Sanchaba, with a clear pathway of progression for talented individuals. The project, in collaboration with Net World Sports has also allowed the FAW to provide much-needed kit and equipment (such as boots, clothing, balls, bibs, cones, goals etc) for young people in The Gambia.
In the GFF’s National Football Development Plan 2019-2022, the federation details it is already committed to developing and improving on the existing football infrastructure in every region of the country. With the support of the UEFA Assist funding, the FAW are working with the GFF to support the development of the Jambarr Football Academy Foundation pitch and facility.
FAW Coach Educators and the FAW’s Equality, Diversity, Inclusion & Integrity Executive were joined by founders of the Jambarr Football Academy, Craig and Isabel Goodman. Since its inception, the Jambarr Football Academy has now grown to more than 200 children and 4 coaches. The Academy Foundation’s long-term vision is to purchase a plot of land and build a pitch with facilities where children from across The Gambia, can participate and enjoy football in a safe environment with the correct facilities/clothing, with a direct pathway for talented players into a GFF League Club.
During their trip to The Gambia, the FAW coach education team delivered a range of theory and practical sessions to over 300 children and 40 Gambian coaches. The sessions included practical on the ball work with the Jambarr Football Academy (age ranges from U6’s-U15’s), the Tijan Jaiteh Foundation Under 15’s squad, the Young Villa Football Academy Women and Girls Team and fun football sessions at a local Primary School.
Coaches from The Gambia also benefited from the visit, by participating in an FAW coaching seminar which offered both theory and practical sessions around the “Welsh Way”. The coaches were given insight into the FAW’s coaching pathway and principles, in addition to the opportunity to ask questions and network with FAW coaches.
With more volunteers and coaches being trained, the newly trained coaches will establish additional football opportunities to meet the current demands. Coaches and volunteers will also be encouraged to help participation among girls in the area by holding targeted “turn-up and play” training sessions.
FAW Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Integrity Executive Carys Ingram said: “At the FAW, we are incredibly grateful to the UEFA assist programme for providing this opportunity and funding, as well as Craig Goodman, Isabel Goodman and Tijan Jaiteh for their inspiring contribution in delivering this project. We hope to continue collaborating with The Gambia in the future and see its football development go from strength to strength.”