In the village of Kafuta in Kombo East, the love affair with football mostly by the young people has blossomed over the years into an obsessive relationship. In this village, football is an overwhelming moment of beauty, pride and affection.
During football matches, scores of people are seen climbing trees outside of the football field to watch their favorite players dazzle and dribble on the sandy pitch.
“Football is part of my life,” says Yaya Daffeh, a 26 year old native of Kafuta. Yaya, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, would join hordes of football fans at the village’s main football field to watch an inter-district village football final between Bonto United and Bassori FC. Although this is not Yaya’s Kafuta team playing, he watched intensely with passion and vigor. “It doesn’t matter most to me whether my village is playing or not,” he tells The Chronicle. “What’s more important for me is the beautiful game, football is everything to me.”
“In this village, we call football the unifying factor. When there’s a football match, everyone comes together, we forget our differences, and we even forget our religion,” says Emmanuel Correa, Chairman Kafuta sports committee. “Whenever our village team is playing, almost the entire Kafuta takes to the field, nothing can bring that in this village apart from football,” Correa said.
Despite the inadequate infrastructure, the paucity of training facilities, football is played on streets and sandy pitches in Kafuta.
Abdoulie Njie is a sport journalist and media officer of the Kombo East District Sports Committee. He has covered many finals in Kafuta. “Football is a passion for the people of this village,” he tells The Chronicle. “So many young people in this village love football because they want to be professional players. The game is also seen as a way of life here. It brings unity and strengthens cordial relationships.”
However, Kafuta has over the years produced talented footballers that would go on to play in the national league and the national team.
In the 90’s, Sheriffo Gibba, a charismatic and exciting young man once caught the eyes of the people for his athleticism. He had briefly played for the Bakau-based team, Steve Biko in 1993.
Hamidou Bojang, also a native of Kafuta is the village’s first player to sign a professional contract. Previously played for Brikama United, ASC Linguere in Senegal, the defender made his international debut for The Gambia in 2016.
Now playing for top tier side Real De Banjul, Hamidou is seen as an inspiration to the young players of the village. “Hamidou has given hope to the young players in Kafuta, he’s a role model here,” says Emmanuel Correa. “The village is proud of him.”