Twenty teams are currently participating in a U-15 youth league tournament in Brikama, to empower grassroots football in the region.
The competition is organised by Ballers4Life Sports Management, an umbrella body facilitating player transfers, trials, and promoting grassroots football initiatives. Local stakeholders such as BK West Football Foundation, Jarisu Talents and Brikama Sports Committee are partners in the initiative.
The tournament started with a thrilling 1-1 opener between BK West United and Jarisu Talents while Orange Stars lost to Brikama Gift by a 3-1 scoreline at the Box Bar mini-stadium the same day.
According to the organisers, twenty teams are pooled into two groups with four teams qualifying from each group into the quarter-finals.
“The objective is to scout talents for our international football partners, help the kids out of the streets, and discourage youngsters against irregular migration, drugs and substance use,” says Alieu Sowe, an official of B4L.
The group 2 encounter saw Bundas Kid Academy pick all 3 points against Bundung Central following a 3-nil victory while the Urban Stars against Stockholm game was called off.
Training of coaches
Before the tournament, a coaching course was facilitated by B4L-trained coaches from the West Coast Region by a development coach specialist from EINTRACHT Frankfurt, Ivan Stoyanov. The training was focused on tactics, performance and results in football.
“We had good discussions on coaching techniques such as how to coordinate good warm-up sessions, how to structure the whole training conducted with the technical things, the basics and how to boost the player’s self-confidence and help them transfer such confidence into the real league games are some things we took them through,” Stoyanov told the press.
Coaches learned new innovative skills required in a modern football approach to developing young talents in two-day engagements. One of the beneficiary coaches, Momodou Jarju, a CAF C-license Holder, says the practical approaches made the difference.
“We learned a lot, especially the practical aspect of it – how to groom young players into professional standards, the simple things we needed to take. I realised that there are simpler approaches to this than the way we have been doing it in the Gambia.
Cherno Barry, founder of BK West, says more capacity-building initiatives are underway to help more coaches and actors in sports.