Mr. President how about our U-20, Sportsmen/woman?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Issued:Wednesday 9 may 2018

Mr. President, ever since you were voted into power, most of us in sports felt our sporting activities would progress to another stage because you told us that you are a football and wrestling fan.

You have said these in many interviews. This picture is another indication that you are a committed football lover because only a committed sportsman/woman supports Arsenal FC. Mr. President, Gambian sports needs not only your personal but also government intervention. We heard that the annual budget allocated for both youth and sports is D68 million.

You know this cannot finance the Gambia Football Federation national teams activities considering the number of competitions they register to participate in. The cost of airfares, hotel bills, allowances and salaries etc all inclusive.

Wrestling, basketball, volleyball, athletics and all other sports should also benefit from that D68 million if it would be available. Youth, who form almost 60% of the population should also benefit from the same budget with over 30 youth organizations all interested in implementing youth led activities at least three times annually. How on earth can this sum of money take both youth and sport forward?

I write this because some three to four days ago, Liberian president George Manneh Weah gave

$10,000 to the Young Scorpions when they qualified to the final of the West African Football Union. He did that to show appreciation to the team. He isn’t Gambian but he donated that amount to inspire the young footballers.

Who knows how much he gave to the Liberian team who made it to the final just months after becoming president?

On May 5, the Young Scorpion defeated Liberia 2-1 to be crowned champions of WAFU. Obviously, we would assume that the government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports would have by now issued a statement congratulating the team. This should naturally come with pledges to give financial or material support to all members of the team. This is still not the case. Or is WAFU considered an insignificant tournament?

Whatever it is, we must provide our athletes with both moral and financial support to be able to demand a lot more from them. Motivation is key in every profession. The young men and women who choose sports as their profession cannot be overlooked when it comes to motivation. They are as important as the military and the police who go on peace keeping. So, Mr. President, emulate other African leaders by giving to the U-20.

At this moment the only financial support announced was when the GFF said they are giving D286, 000 to the team. This announcement was made a day before the final. Who knows; maybe this was what encouraged the players to put up a fierce fight to win the trophy. Maybe the GFF should increase the amount to D500, 000.

The Lamin Kabba Bajo led federation at least has showed off and can even have more if supported but also if they maintain this team to progress to another level. This team has been a delight to watch as is always the case with our youth teams including the females.

Where is the government, the presidency and business tycoons’ support to the team for their glorious achievement? 

Author: Sang Wisdom Mendy