In Darsilami, a small village on the Gambia-Senegal border in the outskirts of Brikama, every kid who wants to become a footballer has been inspired by Alieu Badara Jarju, the village’s best gift to Gambian football.
Jarju, a midfielder cemented his status as a national hero following his prominent role in the national squad in 1990. He played alongside national icons like Cho Jallow, Ebou Dubois, George Lobba and Samuel Kargbo.
“In those days, only a few people in the village were interested in playing football,” said Ousman Jatta, a 30-year-old man from Darsilami and a fan of Jarju. “Now every young person in this village wants to play football because of Alieu Badara Jarju.”
Jarju left the village many years ago. But aware that his success has become an inspiration for the youngsters in Darsilami, he headed home to lecture them about hard work and endurance, and to inspire them more. Delivering his lecture at a sandy football field in the middle of the village, Jarju said, “Never stop dreaming and never stop believing.”
“As youngsters, you need to know what you want first and work towards making it a reality. There’s no magic in football. You have to train hard, relax well and fight easy.” His speech was often interrupted by cheers and applause from the kids who were excited to receive advice from their hero.
Jarju, like these youngsters, started playing football at a very tender age in the same sandy field in the village. “Football was all what I loved since day one,” he told The Chronicle.
His son, Ebrima is currently one of the top footballers in Darsilami. Already a sensation in the village’s senior nawettan, he wants to play for the national squad, like his father.
“My father did his part and I’m proud of him. My aim is to complete what he started. He inspired not just me but the entire village,” Ebrima told The Chronicle.