On Tuesday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Secretary General Fatma Samoura, Development Director for Africa and the Caribbean region Véron Mosengo-Omba and members of the FIFA administration travelled to Banjul to meet with Gambia Football Federation (GFA) staff and the organisation's President Lamin Kabo Bajo.
The delegation received a warm and rousing welcome from a group of traditional Gambian dancers who performed a special “Diola” dance in their honour. During this visit to the GFF's official headquarters in the capital of Banjul, which was one of, which was one of the highlights of a whistle stop tour of The Gambia, Gianni Infantino met with many enthusiastic members of staff, whom he commended on their commitment to furthering the development of football in the country.
A tour of the national technical and training centre followed, before a visit to the Football Hotel. Upgraded and fully refurbished thanks to funding from the FIFA Forward Programme, these facilities have been playing host to the Moroccan U-23 national team and their management, who have been based their for ten-days of pre-match training. The team were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by the FIFA President and relished the opportunity to take selfies and pictures with him. A meeting was also held with various football stakeholders, after which the visit concluded with a press conference, which was attended by members of the local and national media.
Prior to the visit to the training centre and accommodation site, a meeting took place at the presidential palace between the President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow and the FIFA delegation, in the presence of several ministers and senior government officials. During their discussions, presidents Infantino and Barrow agreed on the importance of developing both men’s and women’s football in the country, as well as creating stronger pathways at grassroots level to encourage more young people to get involved in football at all levels.
"We are honoured by the FIFA President’s visit to our country," Gambian President Adama Barrow said. "It is a vote of confidence and a great encouragement to us, and we are determined to promote football development. Developing the game requires financial means that unfortunately our small nation is sadly lacking, so we are therefore asking FIFA to support The Gambia in developing football infrastructure and the training of football officials." He also commended GFF President Bajo on his hard work and outstanding leadership skills.
Speaking after his meeting with President Barrow, Gianni Infantino said: "Today’s meeting with President Barrow was extremely positive and it is heartening to see how committed he is to getting more young people, both girls and boys, involved in football. FIFA will support the development of the game here in The Gambia via the GFF, and our FIFA Forward Programme will provide funding opportunities to improve training and develop infrastructure in Gambian football. Both The Gambia and FIFA have embarked on new eras that place an emphasis on the highest standards of governance.”