Gambian Striker Joins Vancouver

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of,

Bildnummer: 04293885  Datum: 31.07.2008  Copyright: imago/Reporters
Mustapha Jarju (RAEC Mons) - PUBLICATIONxINxGERxAUTxHUNxONLY; Vdig, hoch Jupiler League 2008/2009, Ligue, 1. Belgische Liga, Präsentation, Pressetermin, Porträttermin Fußball Herren Mannschaft Belgien Porträt Randmotiv Personen

Image number 04293885 date 31 07 2008 Copyright imago Reporters Mustapha Jarju RAEC Mons PUBLICATIONxINxGERxAUTxHUNxONLY Vdig vertical Jupiler League 2008 2009 Ligue 1 Belgian League Presentation Press call Portrait session Football men Team Belgium Portrait Rand motive Human Beings Don’t call him Jar Jar Binks, the regrettable Star Wars character. His name is Mustapha Jarju. He is the newest signing for Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps. Ironically, Jarju goes by the nickname, Toubabo, which is the Mandinka word for “white person.”

“I got it when I was very young,” he told The Province. “I don’t know. I started playing well and they just give me that name. Maybe I played like a white man when I was young.”
Jarju had 25 goals and 13 assists in 41 games last season for Mons in the Belgian second division. He turns 25 years old next week. The six-foot striker helped Mons earn promotion this season but his contract was up and the Whitecaps beat out offers in Europe and the Middle East to secure his services. Jarju is also alternate captain of the Gambian national soccer team, and he has been capped 25 times.

He is also MLS’s first African to be a designated player, referring to players who can sign bigger contracts at ownership’s expense with only a portion counting against the cap. Jarju is now one of five Gambians in MLS. “For me, the most important thing is the players, the team, we are all the same,” Jarju told The Province. “I hope I’m going to have success in MLS and a very good six months in Vancouver, then come back ready for pre-season.”

Toubabo hasn’t played a game since the end of May, so immediate expectations of stamina should probably be tempered. Tuesday’s practice included the dreaded beep test, which involves shuttle runs in progressively shortened intervals and generally ends in a wasteland of weariness. Toubabo was one of the first to drop out. “I hope [Wednesday], not the beep test again,” he said.
Toubabo is well aware of the team’s struggles, and the expectations that will follow him. “I scored a lot of goals in the past season,” he said, “and I hope on Saturday I’ll start scoring again. But we have to do it as a group. One man can’t do it.”

“Being at the age he is, we’re excited where he can get to,” said Caps’ coach and director of soccer operations Tommy Soehn, who first saw the player on DVDs, then live in Belgium. “The thing that drew us to him was his nose for the goal, and his ability to set up goals.”