Gambian teenagers abroad: Interview with a promising young footballer, Ebrima Jobe

Written by Alieu Khan

Ebrima

Moving away from The Gambia to the West often brings cultural shocks, especially for young people. But as a footballer, Ebrima Jobe has adapted quite quickly to life in the US. No sooner had he settled in college than his talent in soccer was spotted; something which is earning him a name, awards and college scholarship offers. But unlike many African footballers of recent times, he said in this interview that he’s keen to represent his native country, The Gambia.

What’s On-Gambia: Tell us briefly about yourself.

Ebrima:My name is Ebrima Jobe, popularly known as Ebou Jobe. I was born and raised in Banjul. At a young age, I was taught to be respectful, humble, hardworking, committed, dedicated, and open minded by my family and community as well. Today, I am thankful that I listened and applied all the great lessons I was taught as a kid. I am a hardworking, respectful, humble, dedicated, and committed young adult. I love seeking knowledge, and also meeting new challenges. I am currently enrolled in college as a student athlete pursuing a degree in exercise and sports science and playing football as well.

Ebrima

When and why did you move to the USA?

I moved to the United States at the age of 15, in 2011. My father, who is an American citizen, filed a petition for me to join him and most importantly, continue to pursue my education. Growing up in The Gambia was a period filled with memories that will never be erased from my head. The culture, tradition, and atmosphere are to be found nowhere.

What do you remember about your first days in the USA?

I made a couple of new friends in my first week in the United States. I met them all at a football field that was right next to my dad's house. I did not start school right after I got to the States because it was around Christmas break. As a result, I was always at the soccer field playing football with my new friends. However, I got enrolled in school to start right after the break. I was well prepared for the new education system by my prior schools in The Gambia.

Is it true that you play footballer for Wilson College in Pennsylvania?

 I play both club and high school soccer. I played for United 96 FC U18 when I was 16. I was the youngest in the team, but I performed well regardless. I played as a defensive midfielder and at times sweeper. As a team, we won the Kentucky Derby Cup soccer tournament in which we competed against the toughest teams in our league. As a team, we also competed in the 2013 Kentucky state cup and went all the way to quarterfinals with 9 players, including the goalkeeper. Everyone else in the team was injured. After that season, I was invited by a high school teammate to join his club team called Louisville Soccer Alliance in the spring of 2014. I played defensive midfield and at times fullback. And lastly, I played for Seneca High School and was placed in varied positions throughout the three years I spent with the team. I started playing as a central midfielder during my freshmen year, then played as a defensive midfielder during my sophomore year, and my junior year in which I was a given the captain band, I played as a sweeper. I received two individual awards through the three seasons.

I am currently on an academic scholarship at Wilson College in Pennsylvania, USA, but I was heavily recruited by the soccer coach which led to my decision to attend the institution. I had other schools that were interested in having me as a student athlete, but they all had me as a 2016 grad.

Ebrima

How did you get into football?

As a kid in The Gambia, I was more into books than the soccer ball. However, I knew the game well and could perform whenever I step on the pitch. Pickup games everywhere in town, so it was impossible to avoid kicking the ball. As I grew older, I became more interested in the game and it became my main hobby. What I love most about football is the fact that you have to be mentally fit to play the game. You have to think critically, but quickly as well and it teaches you to always get back up and get going after a downfall.

What's your favourite champion league club and why?

My favorite club team is Chelsea. You know you’ve become a fan of a team, when you get upset after a defeat, when you get into never-before superstitions for the team to hold on to a lead, when you defend a team to death, though having different opinions in your mind, which you never bring on to arguments. All these things started happening to me with Chelsea.

How do you hope to make yourself an international footballer in the future?

I am working hard daily to improve in the game both mentally and physically. I put in the extra effort even when I have no more energy in me. I lay it all out on the pitch as well as off the pitch. Therefore, I hope to one day compete in the top leagues and most importantly, represent my home, The Gambia, which has always been a dream.

Any final words.

I will like to take this time to thank my supportive and loving family alongside all those who constantly keep encouraging me to be above and beyond average.