Tributes continue to pour in for fallen football administrator, Alhagie OB Conateh.
O.B, a renowned Gambian football administrator, died on Saturday after a long illness. He was 82.
At the time of his passing, Alhagie O.B was the Honorary President of The Gambia Football Federation and had previously served as the President of the then Gambia Football Association from 1993 until his voluntary retirement in 2001.
The President of the Republic, Adama Barrow, said “O.B Conateh served The Gambia as a sports enthusiast, a philanthropist and an elderly statesman”.
“His death is a great loss to the nation. I pray that his soul rests in highest Jannah.”
“I had a front seat watching Alhagie O.B Conateh at his craft,” said Tijan Masanneh Ceesay, retired Gambian football commentator now based in the U.S. “I had the distinct once in a lifetime privilege of working with him, particularly in Gambian football.” “This man, once a national bicycle champion would take Gambian football to the pinnacle whether as a club owner, FA President or the Vice President of WAFU, an organization he ushered to maturity. He walked the walk and did everything humanly possible for the youth of our country and sports in general,” Tijan said.
As a young, energetic and smart boy, who will later become an icon in Gambian football, Alhagie O.B Conateh known to many as “Fisco”, attended St. Augustine’s High School and had a professional training in merchandise, marketing and entrepreneurship at the United Africa Company (UAC) in Lagos, Nigeria, where he was later made the manager of Kingsway Supermarket, one of the subsidiaries of UAC. He was also the Administrative Manager of The Gambia Fisheries Ltd. and the sole owner and Chief Executive Officer of the National Partnership Enterprises (NPE) Sea Food Processing Company and sole owner and chairman of O.B. Trawlers Agency.
“He was a man of sports in a world of sports,” said Baboucarr Camara, Communications Director of The Gambia Football Federation. “An athlete during his youth and later a seasoned administrator par excellence, he was a devastating cricketer and an ex-national cycling champion. A true entrepreneur in all definitions, he has done so much for the advancement of the world, sports in particular. May his gentle soul rest in eternal peace in Jannah.”
For Ebrima Sarr, O.B’s love for the game was exceptional. “His main vision was to see Gambian football reach the higher heights. It is sad that he died, but his legacy will forever live on.”
“Through his assertiveness, hard work and sound administration skills, he managed to improve things at the then GFA,” said Ousman Mbenga. His death is a very big loss to our football. We pray may his soul rest in peace.”
For the outstanding contribution to the development of youth and sport in 1999, Alhagie O.B also won the Millennium Award for Excellence by The Gambia National Olympic Committee in 2000 and in 2001, he was honored with the Achievement Award for Excellence by The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Insignia of the National Order of the Republic of The Gambia (ORG). In 2007, he was made Commander of the National Order of the Republic of Cote d’ Ivoire.
GFF Communications Department contributed to this story.