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Dropping the Ball for the Whistle: Former 1st Division Footballer Finds New Career and Hope in Refereeing

Adama Jawo

As a youngster, Adama Jawo aspired to become a footballer and play for The Gambia. Growing up in Bakau where she was born, she’d often play football with her twin sister in their neighbourhood. To fast-forward the story, she joined the Red Scorpions, a popular first division female team in 2011 and rose through the ranks to become the team’s vice captain.

Though playing for the Red Scorpions was in itself a success, Adama’s ultimate ambition was to get into the national squad. The more she pushed her way to national stardom in order to be called to the national squad, the more she contemplated giving up. In 2013, she finally gave up after feeling the opportunities and luck available to her weren’t good enough to propel to the national squad. She was disappointed that she had to quit football altogether. But instead of beating herself up about a shattered dream, she turned her attention to football refereeing.

An opportunity presented itself when Adama participated in a local referees’ programme in 2014 and came out with good grades after the final test.

Adama Jawo in action

“That was the beginning of my refereeing career,” she tells The Chronicle. “I remember a few participants were dropped during the test, but I persisted to be among the best.”

After almost a whole year of hard work and extensive learning, Adama started officiating football matches in the men’s second division league and women’s top tier in late 2015. “I started as a central referee but now I am playing more role of an assistant referee,” she says. “My first game was a nawettan qualifying match at Serekunda West. It was an exciting experience. Since that day, I have been trusted as an assistant referee for so many matches in the 2nd division.”  

Adama, 23, has now set her sights on bagging a FIFA badge.

“I have gained a lot of experience and I am learning by the day. My dream is to be a FIFA referee and to officiate World Cup and African Cup of Nations matches.”

Haruna Cham, a member of The Gambia Referees Committee is full of praises for Adama. “She is improving by the day,” he says. “She’s a capable young woman. All she needs is to focus and not get distracted. We have a lot of confidence in her,” Cham tells The Chronicle.

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