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The football authorities in Gambia should consider appointing a Gambian-born coach, provided there is one with the necessary qualifications, rather than opting for a foreign coach.

Fatoumatta: The football authorities in Gambia should consider appointing a Gambian-born coach, provided there is one with the necessary qualifications, rather than opting for a foreign coach.

Fatoumatta: The uncertainty of when we will stop enduring the hiring of trial and error coaches persists, as other nations advance in football management and employ local coaches who excel in regional, continental, and global competitions. Rather than giving another local coach a chance, we have chosen a foreign coach with less-than-stellar credentials in leading and managing notable African football teams.

Throughout the years, the African Cup of Nations (Afcon finals) has sparked a debate between local and foreign coaching. Most African football federations or associations are in favor of local coaches, hoping they will win more trophies and affirm the value of local coaching expertise. The majority of Africans desire for their local coaches to receive the recognition and remuneration they merit. They also hope that African nations will cease the impulsive hiring of foreign coaches with hefty salaries, under the assumption that they are superior. Recent events, such as the last AFCON 2022 and the FIFA World Cup, have demonstrated the successful coaching of local coaches in comparison to their foreign counterparts. Notable examples include the Senegalese, Moroccan, and Ivorian local coaches, among others, who have excelled and brought honor to their nations.

A press release from the national broadcaster GRTS, as well as a statement by the National Sports Council, has confirmed the appointment of Jonathan McKinstry as the new head coach of the Gambia Scorpion, the national male football team, on a two-year contract. The announcement highlighted that 38-year-old Northern Irish football coach McKinstry, who is currently managing Kenyan Premier League club Gor Mahia, has a history of coaching in African countries, including Sierra Leone from 2013-2014, Rwanda from 2015-2016, and Uganda from 2019-2021. The decision to hire a coach with seemingly modest credentials has raised questions about its merit as a business decision, given the lack of a winning track record in regional and continental football. This move to appoint an outsider has the potential to disrupt the existing successful structures instead of enhancing them.

In the realm of Gambian football, when hiring a coach, the Gambia Football Federation or the Gambia Sports Council must weigh several factors. A successful track record is paramount; the candidate should have a history of positive outcomes and strong leadership in coaching top men’s national or club teams. It’s essential for coaches to align their football philosophy with the nation’s ethos, understanding the cultural context, playing style, and traditions unique to the African nation.

Coaches are expected to hold relevant qualifications, such as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) License and preferably a UEFA Coaching License, to be eligible for club and national level coaching positions.

Over 15 years of coaching experience is often seen as beneficial, though this requirement may differ based on the role and the organization.

Tactical expertise, knowledge of game strategies, formations, and player positioning are crucial. Coaches must be proficient in coaching techniques, player development, and training methods.

Strong leadership is a must; coaches should be able to inspire players, manage team dynamics, and make pivotal decisions during matches. They must also enforce discipline, ensuring players follow rules and guidelines.

Coaches with a track record of rebuilding teams or fostering young talent are especially valued, as African football frequently depends on developing local players.

It’s important to note that specific African countries or clubs may have additional criteria tailored to their distinct needs and context. The recent selection process for Ghana’s Black Stars coach underscores some of these considerations, with the Ghana Football Association (GFA) forming a search committee to assess and endorse candidates.

Fatoumatta: The Gambia Football Federation must consider the advantages of appointing a Gambian-born coach and select the option that aligns best with the national team’s objectives. In summary, as the landscape evolves, the Gambian Scorpions are acknowledging the worth of local coaching talent. Although foreign coaches bring their own strengths, the notable achievements of teams led by African coaches have shown that local expertise can thrive on the global stage.

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