By Lamin Drammeh
Mr Willy Abraham, president of Real de Banjul football club admits he has no desire to contest for the presidency at Gambia Football Federation (GFF) elections. There has been widespread speculations linking the veteran sports administrator to the GFF hot seat but in this interview with The Fatu Network by Lamin Drammeh, Mr Abraham has distanced himself from persistent reports over the matter. He urged everyone to support current president Lamin Kaba Barjo who will be seeking office for a second term in 2018 GFF election.
He also talked about his recent appointment as the chairman of the newly established Gambia Football Federation event management committee where his role includes but not limited to organizing international matches for the Federation. The committe according to Willy, will also offer advice to the GFF in other areas of development.
He also talked about Real de Banjul’s success throughout his 25 years involvement with the club he loves dearly and a lot more.
Let’s read the rest of the interview in verbatim.
Me: Hello, good evening Mr Willy.
Willy: Yes good evening, who’s this?
Me: This is Lamin Drammeh, Gambian-based US journalist resident in New York.
Willy: Yes Drammeh, how are you?
Me: I’m doing pretty good and how about yourself?
Willy: I’m fine thank you.
Me: You very much welcome. I have a question for you in relation to a persistent speculation over your intention to run for Gambia Football Federation elections next year, I’m not sure how true it is?
Willy: No, I’m not interested anymore.
Me: But did you make any attempt to contest for the job as speculated?
Willy: Yes but not anymore. I’m no longer interested.
Me: OK great that’s pretty much clear but I understand Kaba will be re-running for this job in 2018, what are his chances of retaining the GFF top job?
Willy: My brother if there’s no Kaba, who else will be there.
Me: Are you telling me Kaba is the only competent candidate for this job?
Willy: Who else? Tell me.
Me: In other words no other candidate as yet that would pose serious threat to his re-election bid?
Willy: My brother, I’m telling you we don’t have anyone right now, maybe before the elections someone may appear to challenge him. People should stop attacking GFF leaders.
Me: What are you talking about sir?
Willy: I mean we attack each other too much that’s why I’m even scared to be President of the Federation. So everybody is afraid for this job because of the endless attacks.
Me: one might be tempted to ask what kind of attacks you talking about, can you be a little specific here?
Willy: what I mean attacks, attacks is that people attack each other and criticize a lot and they don’t want to come and work with the Federation and develop football.
If Kaba fails before the elections, I will be one of the people who will vote him out but until that time let’s work with him to succeed as a nation.
Me. OK I understand your point now.
ON HIS RECENT APPPOINTMENT AS GFF EVENT MANAGEMENT COMMITTE CHAIRMAN.
Me: Mr Abraham, this take us to questions pertaining to your recent appointment as chairman of the newly established committee dubbed, ” Event Management Committee, “by the Federation, can you tell me more about this appointment in brief?
Willy: Yes Mr Drammeh, it’s true that I have been appointed as the chairman of the “Event Management committee by the Federation and our job is to organise matches for the Federation and also to offer advice to them when and where necessary.
Me: Could it be this appointment has influenced your decision to withdraw your intention to run for the GFF presidency?
Willy: No it has not, I took the decision even before this appointment was made public and known to me.
Me: One final question before we move further Mr Willy, what did you make up of Lang Tombong Tamba’s recent appointment as the vice chairman of the GFF event management committee?
Willy: It is a good appointment. Lang is a good man with a lot of knowledge in football at the Federation level, we worked there before and he has a lot of experience in sports in general.
Me: Others have different interpretation of his appointment because this has been a subject of public debate in certain corners with some suggesting it is not the right time for him to be considered for such appointment at the Football house?
Willy: This is the right time. He is qualify and will help us a lot because he knows the Federation and knows sports. I have known Lang since he was a Junior Army officer and we have a very long standing relationship and he respects me a lot. He maintains the same respect for me when he was working for the Federation and even when he was an army general.
Me: Mr Willy, I know there has been a lot of presidents who served the Federation from the previous leadership to date, if you are to assess their achievements, who will you credit for achieving the most success?
Willy: I would say O.B. Conteh.
Me: why O.B. Conateh?
Willy: Because he has done more than all of them and you cannot deny that.
Me: many football followers think differently. They think Seedy Kinteh has been the most successful GFF president in our history taking into account his achievements with U-17 and U-20 at junior category?
Willy: my brother, Seedy Kinteh did a lot and has also won a lot of trophies but that doesn’t make him the best Federation president. OB, has done more and he has also served the Federation longer than Seedy Kinteh.
Let us talk about qualifying for the Africa cup of nations and world cup because the junior category is not doing very well. We have seen even Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau qualified, we have seen other smaller nations qualified so why not Gambia. Now you as a journalist tell me how many Profesional footballers we have. Let’s forget about the junior category and concentrate on the big tournament.
Me: we have seen the appointment of a new minister for youth & Sports in the person of Mr Hendry Gomez, what do you make up of it on a sporting perspective?
Willy: I have no problem with his appointment.
Me: But he seems to be quiet when sports is facing so much problems. Do you think he’s the right man to resolve the growing problems Gambian sports is faced with?
Willy: It is too early to judge because he’s new and needs time, this is a guy who has been out of the country for so long so let’s give him time.
Mr Willy, this takes me to the final part of this marathon telephone interview, now I want to engage you on the development within your team Real de Banjul. What is different with the team from when you took charge as the president?
Willy: I joined Real de Banjul after completing school. I served as treasurer of the club before my appointment as the president close to 25 years ago. During this period, we achieved a lot together and won a lot of trophies, the league, FA, super cup, African U-17 tournament in Senegal. We competed in the caf African club championship and also produced a lot of great talents who became professionals everywhere. Recently, one of our players Abdoulie Jallow signed a professional contact in France.
Me: this is so remarkable mr Abraham and on that note, I thank you so much for granting me this interview. It is 23:37 Gambian time and you may want to sleep now.
Willy: yes it is already late here but thank you Mr Drammeh for contacting me to clarify this issue.
Me: you very welcome Mr Abrahim, and extend my regards to the family and friends. I will call you anytime I need to speak with you.
Willy: you are welcome, Thank you! Good night!
Me: you too, bye.