Under the name British Gambia, the team played their first ever game on 5 December 1962, beating neighbouring Senegal 3-2 at home in a friendly. In April 1963 the team entered the L'Amitié tournament in Senegal, a competition mainly for French-speaking nations. They were drawn in a group with France's amateur team, the Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and Gabon. Their first match was lost 5-1 to the French amateurs on 11 April. The Gambia drew 2-2 with the Upper Volta on 13 April, and had the same result the very next day versus Gabon. The Gambia did not advance to the next round.
After the tournament in Senegal, the Gambia did not play another match until 16 November 1968, when they travelled to Sierra Leone to play its team in a friendly and lost 2-1. They played again in Sierra Leone in the Gambia's next match on 24 April 1971 and the hosts won 3-1. On 2 May 1971 the Gambia travelled to Guinea for a friendly and lost 4-2. On 14 May 1972 the Gambia returned to Guinea for their first African Games qualifier and lost 8-0 and were knocked out.
In 1975 the Gambia entered its first qualification campaign for the football at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Canada. They were drawn in a qualifier against Guinea, and lost the first leg 1-0 at home on 27 April 1975. The second leg was lost 6-0 in Guinea on 1 June as Guinea advanced 7-0 on aggregate.
In August 1975, the Gambia entered their first qualification for the African Cup of Nations, with the aim of reaching the 1976 finals in Ethiopia. They were drawn in a two-legged qualifier against Morocco and lost the first leg 3-0 away on 10 August. They lost by the same score in their home leg on 24 August and Morocco advanced 6-0 on aggregate.
After the qualification campaign for the 1976 finals, the Gambia played their first match against a full European side, losing a home friendly 4-1 to Denmark on 30 January 1977.