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Life After the Final Whistle: Ebou Dubois, Gambia’s Best Free-Kick Taker of All Time

Ebou Dubois (r) with ex-President Jawara after the Zone 2 tournament in Sierra Leone in 1993

Ebrima Dubois alias Ebou Dubois was born in Bakau and brought up in Banjul. He started playing football at a very tender age in Bakau. “I could remember when I closed from school in those days, I’d would run all the way home just to go to the community center to play football a bit before my brothers arrived home for lunch.”

Dubois played the junior team of St Augustine’s Junior Secondary School where he’d be asked by the Principal, Pa Joof to wait for the senior game at the end of every junior game.

Dubois’ competitive football outside school started with Bakau’s Black Stars and then Gambia Football Association league team, Swallows FC in Banjul. The team was managed by Hameh Kebbeh, the former CEO of Amdallai Trading Enterprises. The patron of Swallows FC was Alhajie M.S. Tambedou, the father of the current Justice Minister Ba Tambedou.

Dubois (sitting 3rd from left) with his Swallows FC in 1977

 Dubois then joined Dagudan, another GFA League team. Dagudan would later join the 3rd Division competition and were promoted to the 2nd Division after just one season.

His biggest opportunity came after he was released by Dagudan to join Real De Banjul in the top flight league where he became fans’ favourite. He quickly built a reputation for himself as the best in stationary kicks, free-kicks, corner kicks and all other kicks.

“Most of my goals were scored from free-kicks, a reason why people who did not watch a particular game I played and scored would ask if my goal was a free-kick. I remembered scoring two goals from a direct corner kick. One was a game between 1st Division players and 2nd Division players at the Independence Stadium. The other one was in Nigeria at the Surulele Stadium against Mali in the Ecowas Tournament in 1991 when the Scorpions were playing for the 3rd and 4th position. We won by 2-0,” he recalls

Dubois (kneeling right) with his Real de Banjul team

The biggest highlight of Dubois’ career was in 1983 when he made his debut with the national squad against Ghana at the Box Bar Stadium in Banjul. “Playing against one of Africa’s best and big names in African football at the time is something to remember. I have a lot of fond memories, especially memories of when we are in camp – the fun and the jokes. We did have a lot of fun. We did camp at Yundum College, Depot in Bakau, China Town near the Stadium and at the Friendship Hostel in the Stadium itself,” he recalls.

Dubois (second row 2nd from right) with the 1983 squad that played Ghana

Dubois maintained his regular status with the Scorpions thanks to his goals from free-kicks. He was later scouted by two Norwegians who were in The Gambia on holidays after they watched his game with Real de Banjul against Ports Authority at the Independence Stadium. Thanks to the scouts, he joined Norwegian team, Lyn in Oslo in 1986. He played a full season with them and got injured the following season. “This ankle injury was so serious I was walking on crutches for eight months.”

Dubois returned to The Gambia in 1990 and returned to Real de Banjul and the national squad. He played with three generations of Gambian footballers. His first generation team mates include Alhaji Njie Biri Biri, Sang Ndong, Garba Touray, Star Janneh and Aziz Corr Sr. Second generation consists of players like Amadou Adams, Saul Jagne, Bla Taal, Mustapha Minteh, James Freeman and late Moses Sarr. Before Dubois retired, he had his last stint with the Scorpions as the most senior member of a third generation squad comprising of players such as George Lobba, Wandeh Njie, Cho Jallow, Ebou Sillah, Jatto Ceesay, Dodou Loum, Saul Faye, Mamadi Touray, Tamsir Manneh and Bai Omar Samba.

Dubois was forced to retire in 1995 after sustaining an injury that would drag on for a long time. Because of his love for the game, he later resumed football at nawettan level, first with Bamba Auto Works and then Old Hands until he retired in 2008.

Injury forced Dubois to retire

He later moved to Norway where he’s currently based with his family.

“I really missed football because of the love we have for the game. We were playing for the love of country and the game. It was our hobby.”

For Dubois, the current state of Gambian football needs assessment. “There should be long term plans and investment in the younger generation of players through schools. I know the football fans have been patient for so long, but I’m very optimistic for the future. At times luck counts because I have seen teams qualifying for the AFCON who are not better than us.”


Dubois now based in Oslo
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