Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bakary Papa Gassama: Calm and competence in a sea of confusion and ineptitude

Bakary Papa Gassama
The selection of the Gambian referee, Bakary Papa Gassama, to officiate the finals between Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire of the Africa Cup of Nations is a matter of national pride for the smallest country on the African continent.

For The Gambia that has never competed at this level, to have one of its own taking charge of a match of such importance and consequence can only be seen as an individual achievement of monumental proportion.

Refereeing in general, but especially in Africa, requires more than skill and stamina.  It requires discipline and personal integrity that this young 36-year old Gambian seem to have in abundance.  For those who follow African football, it is not uncommon to see bribery accusations leveled against referees, justly and unjustly;  not in matches officiated by Papa Gassama.

Frequent and highly questionable calls usually signals a midnight visitation to the referee's hotel-room, prior to the big game, from officials of the home team with a stuffed envelop.  Not a single match that Papa has officiated at this level, on any other level that we are aware of,  has been either poorly officiated or accusation of bribery leveled.

The Gambia should, therefore, be extremely proud that Papa, as he's affectionately called, has never been accused of any of these unsavory character traits that has plagued The Game at the continental level.

With all the nonsense going on in The Gambia, Papa Gassama, represents calm, competence and integrity in a sea of confusion, ineptitude and laziness.  He is indeed the World Cup, world-class GIFA-certified referee he is, achieved through individual hard work, discipline and high degree of integrity.

Gambia needs more Papa Gassamas. The victory belongs to you and to no Gambian politician. Thank you for making us proud and keeping Gambia in the headlines for all the right reasons.