President: Gambia has a cause to celebrate WAFU success

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Gambia has a cause to celebrate the success of U-20 team at the just ended WAFU tournament against big footballing nations like Senegal and Ivory Coast, President Adama Barrow said on Friday, saying no Gambian was prouder than him after the team’s success.

The team returned home last weekend as champions of the 2018 WAFU sub-regional tournament after defeating host Liberia 2-1 in the final in Monrovia.  The Young Scorpions went unbeaten throughout the tournament, something very rare in football tournaments. The team captain, Basiru Mbye presented the trophy to the President.

 The team’s meeting with President Barrow was preceded with another meeting with former international footballer and now President of Liberia, George Weah in Monrovia. President Weah used the meeting with the team to donate US$10, 000 to them.  “If you want to walk quickly you walk alone. But if you want to walk far you work in a group,” a proverb the president used to call for unity in Gambian sports.

He reminded the lads and the entire Gambian populace that success can only come if there is unity across all sectors. He advised the sports family to open up the window of reconciliation and be united in the spirit of sports and interest of The Gambia. “It is our slogan that The Gambia is back but I think today, Football is back in The Gambia!”

He said the success is a big thing in Gambia’s history, saying despite that he was on holiday; he decided to create time to see the boys to discuss about football and sports with them. “As a President, I am really proud!” He used the meeting to reaffirm his government’s commitment to supporting Gambian football.

President of Gambia football governing body Lamin Kabba Bajo said his office and the football fraternity were grateful to Barrow for cutting short his annual holiday to meet the gallant boys, saying that is another demonstration of the interest the President has for football.

Mr. Bajo informed the President that in addition to the main trophy; the team also won Man of the Match three times and also overall best goalkeeper of the tournament.

While appreciating the financial assistance of the government towards sports development, Kabba Bajo said GFF needs urgent government intervention, especially on the issue of Coach for the Senior National Team.

He reminded the keenly listening President that the Senior Scorpions would be hosting Algeria in September for the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers.

In what was seen as the perfect platform for the GFF to put things straight to the President, Bajo told the President that the Gambian name is in the world football governing body FIFA’s blacklist after the National Sports Council suspended the GFF Executive and later rescinded the decision following President Barrow’s intervention. He appealed to the President to continue intervening to mend the undesirable relationship between the GFF and the Sports Ministry.

Sports minister Henry Gomez said it is unfortunate that his ministry could not support the team’s participation in the tournament due to financial constraints, promising that as a ministry, his office would continue to provide the enabling environment for the development and promotion of Gambian sports.

He congratulated the team and technical staff for the deserved accolade. “I want to thank the GFF for the good work they are doing.”

 A proud-looking Gambia U-20 Coach Matarr Mboge said the preparations preceding the tournament were good and that had paid off in Liberia.  He was full of praise for the GFF executive for providing all that was needed for the boys to participate in the tournament and win it.

The U-20 gaffer assured the President that the team will continue working hard to make the country proud and joined the President in calling for unity and oneness among the stakeholders. “The team is highly motivated.”

Author: Alieu Ceesay