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Judo clubs boycott sports council-backed congress

Feb 29, 2016, 10:40 AM | Article By: Lamin Jahateh

Five of the seven recognised judo clubs in The Gambia on Sunday boycotted the elective congress organised by the interim committee of the Gambia Judo Association which was single-handedly appointed by the National Sports Council.

The clubs that boycotted are: Strike (led by Ebrahima Tamba), Flying Tiger (Sirajor Camara), BO Semega Janneh (Sheikh Conteh), Tanji judo club (Abdoulie Malack) and Elephant (Kebbah Sanyang).

While the NSC congress was going on at the Independence Stadium, the club masters also met at an Arabic school in Latrikunda German to find a way forward.

The masters said they decided to unanimously boycott the election because the NSC-powered interim committee wanted to impose candidates on them who will be in charge of the judo association.

However, the whole confusion started long before the elective congress.

In early October 2015, the NSC issued a press release announcing the dissolution of the Gambia Judo Association with immediate effect and replaced it with the interim committee.

Furthermore, last week, the council announced the banning of the dissolved executive of judo association from holding executive positions in the association for two years effective 7 October 2015.

The council said the move was in line with its desire to ensure that all national sports bodies are active and run within the precepts of their constitutions.

Members of the judo clubs said they had already elected their executive for the association at a congress on 29 May 2015 at Olympic House in Bakau.

Six clubs were in attendance at this congress; it was only the judo club in Kartong that was not represented though a representative of the club attended the meeting where the modalities of the congress were discussed.

Before the congress, the NSC was informed through an official letter dated 11 May 2015.

“No member of the council attended the event,” said Ebrahima Tamba of Strike judo club, who was elected at the congress as the president of the NSC-dissolved judo association.

Notwithstanding, after the congress, another letter dated 6 August 2015 was sent to NSC to inform them of the outcome of the congress and the list of executives elected to various positions. The minutes of the congress was sent along with the letter.

Mr Tamba said the NSC again failed to respond to the letter.

“So we were shocked when we read from the Daily Observer edition of 12 October 2015 that the sports council has dissolved judo association,” Mr Tamba said.

“No judo club was informed prior, all got to know through the media.How can the sports council dissolve an executive that was elected by almost all judo clubs and the worse of it was that they did so without even informing the clubs?”

The interim committee in a letter dated 22 February 2016, invited judo clubs to an elective congress to elect people to the positions of assistant secretary general, media officer, treasurer, and assistant treasurer and technical director.

It has emerged that the key positions of president, vice president and secretary general were to be filled by NSC chosen candidates.

The clubs said they do not even mind going to the congress but the NSC or the interim committee should not impose candidates on them.

Abdoulie Malack of Tanji judo club said as judo clubs, they want to elect who and who are to be in the Gambia judo association not anyone the NSC or the interim committee feels like having.

“We want to elect our own people,” he said.“We have raised the issue up with them but they said they want to bring their own independent people because there are two camps in judo.”

The purpose of election is for people to decide who to lead them so if there are two camps in an election, it does not mean that a third party should elect the leaders, the judo master said.

“I have not seen it anywhere leaders are imposed on associations.Besides, the only faction is just with one club, the only club that abandoned the congress we held initially to elect our own leaders of the judo association,” Mr Malack said.

To express their dissatisfaction with the procedures of the congress organised by the interim committee, the five clubs have written a letter to the committee but they said the committee failed to receive the letter.

Sijaro Camara of Flying Tiger judo club said “judo is not like football; it cannot be understood by anyone just like that”.

“You need to be involved to know and we are sure that the people we elected know judo not those the interim committee wants to impose on us,” he said.

However, despite the majority of clubs boycotting, the elective congress of the interim committee was held and new candidates have been elected to various positions.