Ajara Samba: “Red Scorpions will go for the double”

Often overlooked and denied exposure, African women football have for long been on the decline.

Although there are glimmers of hope when competitions like African Women Cup of Nations, having entries for U17, U20 and passage to FIFA competitions, Olympics and Women’s World Cup. The day to day advocacy is that women football should be beyond stereotype and sentiments i.e. all attention the male categories have should be provided equally to them.

After a remarkable development of the women football in the Gambia, I engaged the brilliant ambassador of FIFA Live Your Goals and Red Scorpions striker, the female version of Torres, Ajara Samba, on a range of discussion.

Gambia Sports – What is the feeling like within the camp upon hearing Adama Tamba is in Paris having her two weeks trials with one of the renowned clubs in women football, PSG?

Ajara Samba – Red Scorpions is one of the best female teams across the country. We are positive about this development and extremely happy as a group. Whatever position Adama is in, she deserves it. Adama has respect and passion. She has a great passion and respect for soccer. Because when you give football its due, you will prosper. Having Adama emerge from us going for trial is a pride but we are hoping it won’t be the last. Other clubs can emulate because they will raise the Gambian flag higher.

Gambia Sports – Adama being your friend and team-mate, do you have hope that she can impress the coach and players in PSG?

Ajara Samba – I am sure of it. Once she has a place there, she will definitely make a name for herself. Adama has been the leading goal scorer of the league for the past five seasons. In 2016 she scored 51 goals. I know her very well, anywhere she finds herself she will make it.

Gambia Sports – In your last media interview, you were critical of the federation rather calling for more help. In the FA preseason engagements, they mentioned money to be given to female football. Your comments?

Ajara Samba – Well we are thankful for the money, because this year’s amount was more than last year’s. The increase shows the passion and desire the FA has in pushing women football in the country. It is step by step, the money will be a big help.

Gambia Sports – We have seen a German football expert by the name of Monika Staab, she held football clinic with female clubs. How do you see her presence in the Gambia?

Ajara Samba – I think maybe Monika did hear about our struggles or development and want to independently observe the situation in other to help develop women football in the Gambia. According to reports, she is been quoted that she is impressed with the way women football is being developed. I know that all the clubs she visited show great desire and passion despite the limited support and resources. Hopefully Monika can be a great link and contact in helping us with agents and sponsors. Taking the case of Adama Tamba, someone heard of her and believed that with the right support outside the Gambia, she can make a name for herself.

Gambia Sports – FIFA Live Your Goals for girls was held in Basang this year. You being an ambassador, is the project still achieving its objectives?

Ajara Samba – Among the objectives of the project is to encourage girls in playing football and increase the number. Since 2012, we have seen girls showing huge interest. Part of the objectives of the project is also to empower and support girls in playing football despite barriers coming from their parents.

Gambia Sports – Your assessment on women’s football in The Gambia?

Ajara Samba – Everything is changing, just take a look at the increased money for transportation and preparations. We are not left behind. I am confident that our match venues and games will be brought to the public view like Independence Stadium, Serrekunda East, you name it. Just to justify why I said that things are looking positive is the recently organized test match against Guinea Bissau and ensuring that we registered in the U17 and U20 qualifiers. The FA is truly pushing for our development through the advice of its Women’s Football Coordinator Sainey Sissohore but we are still appealing for them to push more because there are big potentials in this country that the world should see.

Gambia Sports – Finally, Red Scorpions is back to the league after its suspension and loss of Fatima Juwara and captain Fatou Fatty’s migration to Spain. What surprise is in store for the fans and public?

Ajara Samba – We are still mourning Fatima, she was so dear to us. Within Red Scorpions, we have lots of versatile players because we train our players to be able to play in different position. Prior before Fatou Fatty’s departure, we were welcoming our suspended players back. I myself am a striker but now play as a defender. Red Scorpions is here to stay and the desire is higher than previous. We are committed to rise to the top, nothing can stop us. We are hard on the pre-season and we want to win both the league and the FA Cup.