There is a saying that home is where the heart lies, but when it comes to football it appears most Gambian football fans have their footballing loyalty rooted elsewhere – thousands of miles across the Mediterranean.
With the English Premier League (EPL), Spanish La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga all kicked into motion, fans across the different footballing spectrum are salivating over their clubs, new acquisitions and their prospects for the 2019-2020 season.
Kassim Oscar, a diehard Chelsea FC fan recalls that his love affair with the EPL dates back to 2004 when he started listening to and watching some classic encounters, especially that match that brought Arsenal’s unbeaten run to an end.
“The way the commentator was describing the win was very [very] interesting. Besides, I had made up my mind to support Chelsea Football Club because of two great players in Didier Drogba and the current coach Frank Lampard.”
Like some sort of religion, European club football is followed with such a passion and seriousness that in our part of the world OBSESSION is a word that is sometimes used by critics to describe the manner in which local fans treat matches and how they wax poetic about the galaxy of stars they cheer on TV.
Kassim, a journalist by trade may not fall under the obsessed brigade but he can “bear to miss a meal than to miss a single Chelsea game in a season.” And at a time when the Blues have a new man in charge of the dugout at Stamford Bridge, the enthused radio presenter says “despite my Chelsea being one of the underdogs, I kassim personally believe that Lampard can squeeze us into top 4 and hopefully grab a domestic cup.”
Football is an emotive affair. Pulsating games can spark unending heated arguments. A major positive, though, is that the world’s most popular sport is helping in forging relationships between strangers through the frequent trading of banter.
“Being a Blue fan, I’ve made so many friends,” reveals the man who goes by the sobriquet Oscar, former Brazilian and Chelsea star. These days, Kassim intimates, the relationships he has built out of football transcend the sports itself.
As a brand new season comes alive, Kassim Oscar and other young people in the Gambia are poised to make the most of their weekends, relishing the thrills and spills as well cursing the topsy-turvy moments that come with each encounter.
Famara Fofana is a freelance journalist with The Chronicle, and an ardent football fan.