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Matarr Sarr Memorial Football Tournament kicks-off

Apr 8, 2010, 2:11 PM

April 3rd was the kick-off for the annual Matarr Sarr Memorial Youth Football Tournament, targeting young men and women from different football clubs.

A total number of 14 matches will be played before the final, plus an additional 6 matches for U- 11 category.

The Matar Sarr Memorial Tournament is part of GIFTS' initiative, and also to celebrate its 8 years of existence this year.

GIFTS is a NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) based in Norway. It was founded by a Gambian, Mr. Saul Sulayman Sowe and his wife Kari Jaquesson.

They were soon joined by friends who wanted to contribute in their efforts to offer sports for Gambian children.

"The first year we realised that few of the children had football shoes. In Norway, children get new gears all the time, and since children's feet grow fast, shoes were as good as new before they were too small," said Saul Sowe.

The GIFTS group launched a collection of gears and have during the last seven years donated over 25, 000 pairs of football shoes, thousands of footballs, jerseys and other football equipment to Gambian children.

"We have received new equipment from Norwegian companies that have read about us in the Norwegian media," said Kari Jaquesson, a well-known fitness personality in the Norwegian TV.

In addition to the Serrekunda-based tournament and collection of football equipment, GIFTS have also managed to finance the participation of Gambian teams in the world's biggest football tournament for children: Norway Cup.

The Gambian teams have obtained great results in this tournament. This year GIFTS is hoping to get financial support for its participation.

"Finances are always a struggle, there are many good causes that fight for the same money, but we will keep on trying" says Saul Sowe.

Three football academies with over 700 participants located in Serrekunda, Sukuta and Farato were also beneficiaries of GIFTS.

Mr. Alieu B. Jeng, the Coordinator of GIFTS activities in The Gambia and also a teacher, underscored the importance of physical activity for the well-being of people, and as a means of learning life skills.

"As a team player on the field you learn that you must be able to cooperate to obtain results, just as in life in general," he stated.

"Also, it is a known fact that active youngsters perform better academically and tend to stay out of trouble. In other words, there are many good reasons for parents to encourage physical activity. GIFTS' ambition is to open football-academies around The Gambia, and they will continue to donate equipment," Jeng concluded.