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Gambia for Gold holds Cocktail Dinner in honour of U-20

Nov 1, 2010, 3:17 PM

The Gambia for Gold, a sports fundraising committee, on Friday held a cocktail party at the Seaview Hotel in Kololi in honour and recognition of the Gambia U20 team who recently defeated Ivory Coast’s U20 to qualify for next year’s U20 youth championship in Libya.

The Gambia for Gold is tasked with the responsibility of raising the needed funds for the participation of all the categories of the Gambia’s national teams in continental and global competitions.

The Gambia national U20 team - the Gallant Scorpions, have been hitting the headlines on the media globally as a result of their tremendous achievement that saw them become the first African U20 team to berth a place in next year's U20 youth championship in Libya thanks to their magnificent 2-nil aggregate success over the highly rated but hapless Young Elephants of Ivory Coast in Abidjan last week.

The team, which is about to make its second appearance in the continental showpiece early next year, travelled to Abidjan on 20 October for their final match of the qualifying campaign with little expectations from the Gambian people following their unconvincing 1-nil win over Cote D' Ivoire a month ago.

But Saihou Gassama's decisive and much anticipated 43rd minute strike from a penalty spot was all but enough for Coach Lamin Sarr and his outstanding Gambian team to progress to the championship amidst a heroic welcome.

It is against this backdrop that the Gambia for Gold’s fundraising committee, under the leadership of Tombong Saidy, hosted a cocktail party in honour and recognition of the Gallant Scorpions who were the bronze medalist in the 2007 African U20 youth championship in Congo.

Mr Saidy, who could not hide his satisfaction over the tremendous success registered by the Gambia national U20 team in Abidjan, thanked the players for their effort in making sure they continue to raise the standard of Gambian football.

Saidy used the opportunity to assure the U20 players of Gambia for Gold's support in raising the needed funds for their participation in the forthcoming continental and global showdown.

The minister of Youth and Sports, Sheriff Gomez, who is one of the brains behind the establishment of Gambia for Gold's fundraising committee, told the gathering that "President Jammeh has been the main source of inspiration" in initiating the Gambia for Gold fundraising campaign.

The minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Fatou Lamin Faye, who represented the cabinet ministers at the occasion, was equally appreciative of the "tremendous and remarkable achievement" the U20 team has registered.

"You have set the pace for Gambia U17 and other participating teams and I am quite optimistic that they will emulate your success in qualifying to all the international championships," she told the U20 squad.

"I would like to congratulate the Gambia national U20 team on behalf of my fellow cabinet ministers for raising the flag of Gambian football to the highest level and special thanks and appreciation go to President Jammeh for his unflinching support to sports development and football in particular," Mrs Faye remarked.

Also in attendance at the party was the secretary general of the Gambia Football Association, Jammeh Bojang.

"We are definitely appreciative of the effort of the ministry and government for their great injection of funds to our national teams, which is a clear manifestation of their commitment in taking Gambian football to higher heights," Mr Bojang said.

"We hope and pray that it is a beginning of great successes so that we can reach our target by qualifying all the national categories to international championships," the GFA general secretary pointed out.

For his part, the head coach of the victorious U20 team, Lamin Sarr, who felt extremely delighted at attending such an auspicious occasion, seized the opportunity to thank the GFA for availing him the opportunity of being in charge of the team for the second time despite failing in his attempt to lead the U20 national team to the 2009 championship in Rwanda.

He said: "I was unable to guide the team to the 2009 championship after a defeat against Ghana who went ahead to be crowned the African the world U20 champions and this clearly demonstrates the fact that they were not an easy opponent."

Sarr, who has turned from an underdog to a hero within a short period of time, took time to recognise the support of his coaching staff Abdoulie Bojang and Foday Bah for their support and dedication to ensure a success drive during the course of the qualification.

The inspirational team captain Saihou Gassama, who spoke on behalf of his teammates, said it was not an easy task to represent the country but he was however thankful to God for answering their prayers.

The Real Zaragoza midfielder, who scored in both legs to ensure qualification to the Libya championship was also full of praises for the minister of youth and sports, Sheriff Gomez, for what he described as his continuous support to the team at all times, and President Jammeh in particular.

"We have done what we are tasked to do but we are expecting something from you in return," Gassama tasked the minister on behalf of his teammates.