Dec 5, 2019, 2:13 PM
The 4th Board of Directors (BOD) meeting of the Organisation of Military Sports in Africa (OSMA) hosted by the Gambia Armed Forces got underway at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi yesterday 24 September 2013.
The opening ceremony, held at the Pencha Mi Hall, Paradise Suites Hotel, was graced by Her Excellency Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy, Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia, members of the Organisation of Military Sports in Africa (OSMA), the Gambia Armed Forces among other stakeholders.
In his welcoming remarks, Lt Gen. Ousman Bargie, Armed Forces Chief of Defence Staff, saluted the Commander-In-Chief and President for approving the hosting of the “important forum” and also for his personal support in ensuring a successful hosting.
He said the unanimous decision to host this august gathering in The Gambia is a clear reflection of the trust and confidence the Organisation of Military Sports in Africa (OSMA) has in them as an Armed Force and a nation despite her small size.
He therefore, on behalf of the President of the Republic of The Gambia and the entire members of GAF, conveyed their profound gratitude and appreciation to OSMA for giving The Gambia the honour of hosting the gathering.
CDS Bargie stated that sport has become an important integral part of military life, building skills, character, fitness and boosting morale, adding that at first during the First World War, military authorities saw sport as a distraction but from 1916 it was encouraged as a morale booster.
“Since then, it is becoming well organised in our various armed forces with the holding of many Inter-Services competitions,” he also said.
“The holding of various sporting activities represents unique opportunity to highlight the message of peace, stability, and unity,” he went on, adding: “The various military sporting competitions also promote friendship and solidarity among African Armed Forces.”
CDS Bargie remarked further: “In our peacekeeping and peace-building initiatives, sport can be an effective tool as it provides useful way of creating an environment in which people and militaries of different nations can come together to work towards the same goal, show respect for others and share space and equipment.
“Through sport, soldiers who may previously have met on the battlefield, now meet in friendship on the playing field.
“This is in accordance with the philosophy and ideals which were set in the mission statement of the International Military Sports Council of which OSMA is a branch. It has become a significant tool to help the rebuilding of societies in post-conflict situation.”
Lt Gen. Bargie said it is his fervent belief that the gathering would provide the opportunity to further consolidate on the gains registered so far and also develop important roadmap for the further development of sport.
“In the late 19th to early 20th centuries, military attitude towards civilian were initially hostile,” he highlighted, adding: “However, sporting has improved these relations which should be taken further.”
Sport has become a bridge between civilian and the military and also the prestige of good sportsmen thus creating a positive public image for the military, he added, saying playing with civilian sportsmen also helps raise military sporting standards.
Col Kawsu Sanyang, PRO Gambia Armed Forces, said in his remarks: “Sports as an element of culture in contemporary civilization plays a decisive role in the upbringing of men, strengthens national cohesion and bringing together the Armed Forces of African countries.
“This is why the African armies found it necessary to come together to form a sporting body that would be responsible for their own sporting affairs.”
OSMA was formed in May 1994 in Conakry, Guinea, and it constitutes African Armed Forces of CISM.
Col Jean Marie Ompembe, Vice President of OSMA, speaking on behalf of OSMA President, thanked the President of The Gambia and Supreme Head of the Armed Forces for allowing the meeting to be held in Banjul.
Col Opembe also took time to give a brief background of the organisation, while also highlighting its aims and objectives.
He also took the opportunity to solicit support from the President of the Republic of The Gambia to sponsor one of their sports activities with a trophy that will bear his name.
At the end of the opening ceremony, the following were decorated: His Excellency the President of the Republic of The Gambia, which was received by Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy was also decorated, as well as CDS Ousman Bargie, Col Jean Marie Opembe, Col Kawsu Sanyang and Ministry of Defence DPS Abdoulie Kah.