By: Muhammed Lamin Drammeh
With the stadium now under serious renovation after being deemed nonstandard to host international games which has sent the Gambia National football teams on many occasions to play their home games in a foreign land, The Fatu Network brings you some historical facts you may not know or will like to know about the country’s only independence stadium.
Here are some significant historical facts about the Independence Stadium:
1. The foundation stone of the Independence Stadium in Bakau was laid on the Gambia’s Independence Anniversary on the 18th day of February in 1980 by former President Alhagie Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara following the parade at the McCarthy Square in Banjul. And three years later, in August 1983, the stadium was completed, and the first test match played there between the Gambia U23 and Aseib Diourbel of Senegal.
2. However, the stadium was officially opened in December 1984 with a four-nation tournament. The Gambia won the tournament, beating Sierra Leone by a lone goal to nil scored by Bai Malleh Wadda.
3. Another significant historical fact about the Independence Stadium is that Thereat was the lead engineer. He promised a 25-thousand-seater plus a hostel to be completed in 1983.
4. The cost of the stadium in 1980 was 32 million Dalasi.
5. Designed to accommodate 25,000 at the time, it could hold up to 30,0000 spectators.
6. The first-ever game at the Independence Stadium was a cup final between Hawks and Starlight in the Saihou Ceesay Cup final.
7. The first-ever goal scored at the new stadium was by Muhammed Williams known as Kujabi.
8. The first-ever musical show performed at the stadium was by Abdel Kabirr known as Lie Ngum.
9. Another important historical fact about the stadium is that it was negotiated for by the sports minister at the time, Alhagie Momodou Cadi Cham.
10. It has hosted many ceremonies, including the historic visit of Pope John Paul in February 1992.
These are important historical records about the country’s only stadium brought to you by The Fatu Network with support from Tijan Masanneh Ceesay, a Gambian football historian and veteran commentator.