Sunday, June 23, 2024

SPOTLIGHT: Assan S. Ndure: Transforming the face of football in The Gambia

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By: Muhammed Lamin Drammeh

From the streets of Barra in the North Bank to Farato Village in the West Coast Region, Assan S. Ndure, a determined young entrepreneur, had once aspired to become a renowned footballer. However, fate had other plans for him. Unfazed by his failed football career, he decided to channel his passion for the sport in a different direction, and that is how he founded the Fortune Football Club. Today, his club has become a harbinger of change in the football scene of The Gambia, with both male and female teams making remarkable strides. Assan’s commitment to the club is evident in the massive investment he has made, which has transformed the lives of many young footballers by providing them with a platform to pursue their professional careers. Fortune Football Club is widely regarded as one of the most structured, organized, and motivated football clubs in the country today, with its positive impact on the sport being felt from the streets of Barra in the North Bank to the Farato Village in the West Coast Region. 

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“When I was young, I wanted to be a footballer. But coming from a business family and the oldest son in the family, I couldn’t go further as a player. So, I shifted my dream from being a professional footballer to being a club president that will change the face of football in the country,” Assan told The Fatu Network, recalling the beginning of shifting into football club management.

On the 7th day of December in 2012, the young businessman took a bold decision to establish a football club and name it Fortune Football Club, a team that has been painted in the annals of football in the country.

On the 7th of December in 2012, the young and ambitious businessman made a bold decision that would change the course of his life permanently. He decided to take his love for football and his passion for helping young people to establish a football club that he named Fortune Football Club. This football club has since become a household name and is celebrated in the annals of football history in the country.

Assan, the founder of Fortune Football Club, since the 2012 Nawettan in Farato, has always had a passion for football. He saw the need to create a team that would provide a professional path for many young people, and he was determined to make it a reality. This decision was not an easy one, but he remained steadfast in his quest to establish a team that would be much talked about today.

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Assan’s love for football started in the streets of Barra in the North Bank Region, where he was part of the Barra Football Academy. This academy was established by Jane Joof in 2003 and played a significant role in nurturing his love for the sport. Although his football career as a player couldn’t expand beyond the grassroots level, he took up the responsibility of running his father’s business in Farato.

With the establishment of Fortune Football Club, Assan has been able to provide a platform for many young people to showcase their talents and pursue their dreams. His unwavering dedication and commitment to the sport have made him a true inspiration to many, and his legacy in the world of football will undoubtedly endure for generations to come.

“When I moved to Fararo to take care of my dad’s business, I used to play for a team. But unfortunately, that team had some issues and they stopped playing in the Naweetan. That was the time I invited my friends and formed a team to play in the Naweetan.

“It actually began as just fun. Then three years later, after winning everything in the Brikama Naweetan, the vision of the club started changing. We took part in the regional third-division qualifiers, and played the league, to the second division and to the first division. This happened just in two years,” he told TFN.

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At the age of 34, Assan is the youngest club owner in the topflight of Gambian football, massively investing in football and player development.

In the 2018-19 season, when the team reached the top tier of Gambian football, a lot had changed. Apart from investing money, Assan implemented an intriguing player development project, which has resulted in the team producing players for every national team football category in the country. Not only that, but the team has also been exporting players for a professional football career.

“As a person, I have learned a lot in the game. I have discovered that there is more to this game than just playing. I have tarred a progressive path for myself and my team that has been helping us in all facets, both on and off the pitch. Having finance as a team is good, but having finance and a bright direction makes the difference and that is what is behind the success of this team in just 11 years. We have a direction and that is where everyone sees us heading.”

In their third year in The Gambia’s first division, Fortune Football Club — affectionately called the Petroleum Boys — won the league in 2021.

After winning the league in 2021, Fortune, with Assan’s vision and insatiable quest for more success, backed the team and registered them in the CAF club Champions League preliminary, where the team faced noted African champions, ES SETIF of Algeria. In the first leg in Banjul, Fortune stunned the whole continent with an emphatic 3-0 thumping over ES Setif at the Independence Stadium before losing to a penalty shootout in the second leg in Algeria.

To Assan, participating in the preliminary is just the threshold for his dream of making Fortune a giant in African football.

“The vision is for this team to only produce players for professional development or career, but to compete beyond the borders of this country. We want to compete in the club’s Champions League in the very near future. We are working on it, every time,” the ambitious club president explained.

Assan does not only own and finance the male team, but he also finances a female team, which is participating in the women’s second division league, making him among the very few individuals funding both male and female teams in the Gambia Football Federation Leagues.

“Female football in the country is evolving. We are aware of it, that is why we are investing in that too,” he said.

Branded as one of the finest football administrators in the country, Assan is striving to establish a standard football field for the team that will be used as a center for youngsters who will become national icons in the game.

A young man with a massive dream, Assan has been a shining light in football development in the country. Through his love and investment, he has helped many footballers who are now playing professional football.

He is dedicating his time to transforming and developing footballers. In his executive, Assan works with only young people, creating employment for them.

He has won the respect of many football administrators in the country.

Today, December 7, 2023, Fortune Football Club celebrates 11 years of Football Excellence.

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