(click on images to enlarge) The success of football in Gibraltar could be measured by the large amount of teams playing in the three leagues or by the equally large number of teams in the junior leagues. Another way in which it's success could be measured is whether it is able to attract players from different minority groups. Gibraltar has always been proud to readily accept U.K. players in the leagues through the combined Services teams, which still exists today in the junior leagues. Gibraltar has also recently seen the introduction of a ladies' league, however of significant importance is the existence of a Moroccan team.
Morocco United has been in existence since 1996, although this team originally started out as Moroccan Star. Some internal problems, which led to the emergence of two Moroccan teams culminated in a truce which saw Moroccan United continue partaking in local football.
The current team still have problems of sorts and it is only the organisational skills and determination of their manager, Mustafa Fakir (pictured, top, far right), which manages to keep the team going. Mustafa mentioned exclusively to SportGibraltar.com, that "although we have 18 players we are rarely able to turn up with more than just the 11 players needed". The reasons for this shortfall, is due to the fact that many of the players have evening jobs and therefore are unable to get out of their work commitments to come and play the game they love so much. Mustafa wishes that his players had 9-5 jobs like most of the players playing for other teams. Mustafa also mentions the financial aspects of the game that affects the ability of the players to play. Every team must pay an entry fee of £200 per season, plus a £20 fee per player, per season. This means that many players will have to pay to meet these financial demands as well as having to pay £3 for a yellow and £6 for a red. This rule applies to all GFA teams however the fact that most of Morocco United players have low incomes make the prospect of attaining a yellow or even red card a real non starter.
Luckily enough, the Bank of Maroc, sponsored Morocco United by providing them with a three strips, which they have been using for a number of years. They therefore do not have much demand for strips but do certainly need some kind of sponsoring to meet the costs of running a team. Mustafa often has to fork out, from his own pocket to meet these fees and is willing to do so in order to give his players a game. Mustafa is a great representative of everything that should be football in Gibraltar. He too was once a proud player but has had to give up due to some injuries.
Mustafa is proud of the history of his club especially since the team went up from fourth division to the heady heights of the second division. Mustafa clearly stated that that was as far as they were capable of going as he knew the limits of hi players, commitment wise.
When asked about whether any of his players had suffered any form of racial abuse. He clearly stated that he had never experienced such a thing and was very quick to point out that the reverse was certainly true. Mustafa applauds the manner in which Gibraltar football has accepted the Moroccan team as a truly Gibraltarian entity, in fact other sides look with anticipation at playing them and generally raise their game against Moroccan United.
I was fortunate enough to watch a game, between Moroccan United (pictured 1st) against Leo's Sanots & Sons (pictured 2nd) and meet Mustafa in person. The camaraderie shown in the game and fair play was something to admire. Both teams battled hard throughout the game which ended 3-3. The game did finish a little earlier as the lights in the stadium went out 5 minutes before the end.
There were the occasional tussles within the game, between players of either team but this was clearly put aside at the end of the game, as both teams came together and shook hands.
Gibraltarian football should be proud to have such diversity within its association and the sense of fair play that is found at all levels.
Mustafa Fakir can be contacted by calling his mobile on Tel: (00 350) 58169000. Mustafa would be very interested in finding someone that would be willing to sponsor his team and therefore keep this great symbol of our cosmopolitan society, alive.
Third division standings, most recent:
|Shamrock 101 FC||11||9||1||1||41||8||33||28|
|Sporting Club Gibraltar||10||6||1||3||21||13||8||19|
|Leo's Santos & Sons||11||3||2||6||22||20||2||11|
|Red Devils Netgear||11||1||3||7||24||35||-11||6|
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