The Gambia women's national football team represents the Gambia in international football competition. The team, however, has not competed in a match recognised by FIFA, the sport's international governing body, despite that organised women's football has been played in the country since 1998. The Gambia has two youth teams, an under-17 side that has competed in FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup qualifiers, and an under-19 side that withdrew from regional qualifiers for an under-19 World Cup. The development of a national team faces challenges similar to those across Africa, although the national football association has four staff members focusing on women's football.
In 1985, few countries had women's national football teams. While the sport gained popularity worldwide in later decades, the Gambia's national team only played its first game in 2007. That game was not FIFA-recognised. As of March 2012, the team was unranked by FIFA, and as of the following month the Gambia had not played in a FIFA-sanctioned match. The team has not participated in major regional and international tournaments, including the Women's World Cup, the 2010 African Women's Championship or the 2011 All-Africa Games.
The development of women's football in Africa faces several challenges, including limited access to education, poverty amongst women, inequalities and human rights abuses targeting women. Funding is another issue impacting the game in Africa, where most financial assistance comes from FIFA and not national football associations. Another challenge is the retention of football players. Many women footballers leave the continent to seek greater opportunity in Europe or the United States.
Gambia's national football association was founded in 1952, and became affiliated with FIFA in 1968. Football is the most popular women's sport in the country, and was first played in an organized system in 1998. A national competition was launched in 2007, the same year FIFA started an education course on football for women. Competition was active on both the national and scholastic levels by 2009. There are four staffers dedicated to women's football in the Gambia Football Association, and representation of women on the board is required by the association's charter.
^Saavedra, Martha; Centerfor African Studies, University of California, Berkeley (December 2007). "Women’s Football in Africa". Third Transnational Meeting on Sport and Gender, Urbino. Retrieved 17 April 2012.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)