Monika Staab has traveled in 75 countries for FIFA, UEFA, DOSB, German Foreign Office and many NGOs over the last decade. Helping others through football has been her main goal over the years, an undertaking that she decided to take upon also in Gambia.
After Beatrice Allen of the Gambia Olympic Committee and Katrin Gafarend of the DOSB (International Relations) met in Doha on the sidelines of the “General Assembly of the National Olympic Committees (ANOC)”, Mrs. Allen asked Mrs. Gafarend whether she could support women’s and girls’ football in the Gambia. At that moment the idea was initiated. Monika Staab, football teacher and “German Football Ambassador 2014” award winner, was selected for this project focusing on women’s football. She would run coaching clinics, review the coaching structure, and, in collaboration with all partners involved, make a recommendation for a possible long-term support program.
On 2 October 2017 she arrived in Gambia where in the past 14 days she could get a good overview of the structures and activities in women’s football in this country. Mrs. Staab was very surprised to discover that the FF in Gambia received so much recognition from many institutions. The A-national team made their official debut on September 16, 2017. She carried out a friendly game against Guinea Bissau, which resulted with a 2-0 win. Such a result was the very first in the history of women’s football in Gambia.
During the two-month stay, the project manager Monika Staab will carry out several training courses (3 football coaches). She already has a good overview regarding the level women’s football has in this country. The most important area to improve is the trainers’ training. The players train 2-3 hours a day, sometimes 5 times a week. The places are more like a sand beach and lead to many injuries to the players. The trainer’s courses will surely be very helpful to teach the trainers the modern training methods that are needed. Surely, prevention of injuries is also an important issue. At 34 degrees heat, the players drink almost nothing – get very little drinking breaks – so it is not surprising that ultimately more injuries take place and the players are not so concentrated in the scoring. Moreover, and additional issue is the sport material. Only 4-8 balls are being provided for 25-35 players. To resolve this issue the German Consulate in Gambia and project manager, Monika Staab, will also hand over a donation of sports material at the end of their project on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office.
Furthermore, the girls do not start playing football until 14/15 years of age in a school team – much too late to really make a significant progress. Hence, the players lack the needed technical skills. Due to this fact Monika Staab is aiming to introduce a program and to implement it as soon as possible. Optimistic talks have already taken place with the Ministry of Education. She will perform several Girls Festivals (6-12 years) in the whole of Gambia in order to increase the public awareness of women’s football. There still eist many prejudices over this topic as they existed in the 1970s in Germany. A women’s football symposium – where all stakeholders are invited, especially media representatives, will take place.
This is a very important project for Monic Staab. She strongly believes that it is only when everyone comes together that goals and ideas can be put into practice. This project would then be the first long-term project for women’s football, which was carried out by a female project manager. The FF is growing and growing and is also making progress in the developing world – to the fullest satisfaction and presentation of Monika Staab.