In Sukuta, West Coast Region, Lamin Camara, a charismatic young man, once caught the eyes of the people with his pace and dribbling skills. He was one of the most natural finishers of his generation.
As an up-and-coming footballer, he was widely glorified across Sukuta and tipped to become a great footballer who will lead the next generation in the sport. Camara’s rise to fame started as a teenage striker for the local Young-Gibba FC nawettan team in Sukuta in the early 90s. At his best, he was unstoppable. A rare combination of physical prowess and unbelievable technical ability.
He became an immediate star thanks to his pace, dribbling skills and eagle-eye for goal. He was certainly not the young defender opponents enjoyed facing. His excellent dribbling skills and terrific finishing ability quickly propelled him to the town’s senior Nawettan team in 1997. In that year, he scored nine goals and emerged as the Nawettan’s leading goal scorer. “Playing football was a way of living life for me,” Camara told The Chronicle. “I sacrificed most of my precious life moments playing football with the hope of playing in top leagues around the world, but I am so unlucky that my career ends this way”.
By then, he became the one-to-watch, with several Division One League clubs after him. “I remember O.B Conateh, the President of Wallidan Football Club, was watching my game against Wallidan at the KG5 mini stadium in Banjul, he was impressed with my performance and reached out to my MP FC for the service”.
In 1999, Camara joined Wallidan FC in the 1st Division League, a rare success for a young player of his age. He became the pride of Sukuta, touted by many as the next superstar who’d make it to the national squad and perhaps outside the country for professional football. In his first season with Wallidan, Camara scored five goals. “I enjoyed my stay with Wallidan,” he says. “The team was full of good players and I was always ready to deliver”.
Camara’s dream was to play for the national squad and professional football. “Anytime we travelled outside to compete, I attracted interest from clubs around the continent, but my club president, O.B Conateh, was reluctant to let us sign for other clubs. He wanted us to stay with Wallidan and I didn’t like that, so I left”.
“I feel O.B Conateh wasted my time and ruined my career. If he’d accepted numerous offers from clubs abroad who showed interest to sign me, I shouldn’t have been at the position now.”
Camara, however, had short stints with Steve Biko and Seaview football clubs. Tired, ageing and with hopes of professional football fading, his reputation as an energetic and skillful striker started to falter on the pitch. And off the pitch, his charisma started to fade. He was no longer able to live up to the hype, and in 2011, he decided to quit football.
Lamin Camara is now working as a plumber as a source of living.