Nov 11, 2010, 11:42 AM
Honorary Life President of the Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia
Secretary General Gambia Press Union
Executive Secretary National Sports Council
Development Officer National Sports Council
Comrade Sports Journalists
Firstly, I wish to thank Allah the Almighty for blessing us all by granting us the will to assemble here today. Therefore, I welcome you to this 2nd triennial congress of the Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia. It is, indeed, a source of great pride to observe that our entire membership is present here today. This is indeed a clear manifestation of your interest in and devotion to our dear Association.
On August 18, 2007, the sports journalists family assembled at the Independence Stadium in Bakau in a congress, and democratically elected an Executive Committee in which I was elected unopposed as President. We were tasked with the noble responsibility of managing the affairs of this Association. It is against this backdrop that I stand before you to report on the many development initiatives to date.
In accordance with Article VII section 4 of the 2007 constitution, the Executive Committee had regular meetings although some members of the Executive Committee could not effectively satisfy this constitutional provision, as some of them traveled outside the country for personal reasons. It was at such meetings that the Executive Committee initiated development plans in the interest of the Association.
Before I venture into this marathon report, let me first and foremost thank the congress delegates for electing the outgoing Executive into office from 2007 to 2010, with the mission to improve Sports Journalism constantly and to promote it nationally and internationally, and restructure the Association with knowledgeable and dedicated people. Admittedly, your steadfast commitment to the promotion and development of sports journalism in The Gambia has been a driving force behind the successes we collectively delivered during the past three years.
I am proud to state, from the onset, that this period under review has been, maybe will become noted, as the most successful period in the annals of the Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia.
This is the period when we began to realize our irrefutable and significant contribution to Sports development and, by extension, continue to uphold our commitment to support and fulfill our role in the government’s sports development policy.
A - Our Relationship with the International Sports Press Association (AIPS)
One of the biggest achievements in the Annals of Sports Journalism in The Gambia has been our affiliation to the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) in 2007. This landmark achievement was realized during the 71st AIPS Congress held in Bregenz, Austria.
Barely three months after our official affiliation to the world governing body, The Gambia was listed among the most committed member countries which we were able to safeguard for the past three years.
I seize this opportunity to thank the International Sports Press Association secretariat, specifically its president Mr. Goavanni Merlo for his personal support in uplifting the standard of Gambian sports journalists.
Relationship with African Sports Journalists Union (ASJU)
Our presence at the 71st AIPS Congress in Bregenz opened a new opportunity for The Gambia to express interest in affiliating to the continental body. A meeting of the executive committee of ASJU accorded The Gambia full membership after reviewing the status of the Association which was at beau jour.
Barely two years after our affiliation to the ASJU, the female wing of the continental body was established in The Gambia led by our Secretary General, Sainabou Kujabi.
Alongside Guinea Conakry, The Gambia has a great chance of making it to the Executive Committee of the ASJU at the end of tenure of the current president, Mr. Belad from Morocco.
West African Sports Journalists Association (WASJA)
The idea of setting the West African Sports Journalists Association (WASJA) was conceived at the Bregenz congress where 12 out the 16 countries were present. I am pleased to report that The Gambia was unanimously offered to host the Secretariat of the sub-regional body.
A consultative meeting was planned for December 2009 in Casablanca during the African Sports Journalists Union general assembly, but unfortunately the said Assembly was put off until further notice.
In June 2009 in Abuja, during the FIFA/AFP media training, journalists from four West African countries namely, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia made a giant step by forming the sub-regional body. Mr. Wester, the president of Liberia Sports Writers Association and myself were tasked to draft a proposed constitution for the WASJA, and I am proud to report that the draft constitution is already in place awaiting the first opportunity to be presented to delegates from member countries.
Our Relationship with Government/Ministry of Youth and Sports
We continue to pledge our cooperation, support and commitment to contribute and complement the efforts of the Gambia government in the arduous task of the development of sports in The Gambia.
We are working closely with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Sports Council and other satellite institutions in our chase for sports excellence. We wish to extend our sincere appreciation for their cooperation, support and encouragement. We shall strive to sustain our excellent partnership. We also seize this opportunity to thank His Excellency Sheikh Professsor Alhagie Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh for his personal support to the Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia over the years.
National Sporting Associations
Before my election at the helm of this noble Association, Gambian sports journalists were termed as enemies by sports administrators. Our primary task was to turn a new page in the interest of sports by bridging the gap between us. We launched a familiarization tour of major national sporting associations, which worked well for both parties.
The inclusion of sports journalists in national delegations by sports administrators is a clear manifestation of the good relationship we now enjoy. I cannot go further without mentioning the Gambia Football Association for setting the space in salivating Gambian sports journalists on the international scene.
The Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) has been over the years our source of revenue. They have been financing all our capacity building programs, and have put weight behind the 2010 National Sports Award.
Capacity Building Programs
Capacity building of our members was a top priority of my executive committee. With the absence of a training school for journalists in the country, the Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia embarked on a series of training courses for its members, especially for the young ones.
In the past years, three football reporting courses were held through the support of the Gambia Football Association. A four-day technical course for 30 Gambian journalists on Volleyball, Basketball, Tennis and Handball was also held with the financial support from the GNOC.
With support from the GNOC Women in Sports Commission, international training courses were organized for 30 Gambian journalists as part of the Women in Sports Festival.
As part of our contribution to the human resources development of the Association, many journalists were privileged to be included in technical courses organized by National Associations with the aim of refreshing themselves on the rules and regulations governing the games.
As part of our decentralization process, three training programs for provincial journalists are in the pipeline.
International Sports Journalists Day Commemoration
July 02nd every year is set aside by the AIPS as Sports Journalists' Day to be commemorated by member countries. The day allows Sports Journalists to come together and discuss issues related to their work, and to reflect on the achievements and constraints faced over the years.
In The Gambia, we began to observe this very important day in 2008 in the form of a march past and an open forum bringing together Government, national sports associations and sports journalists. It was held at the Youth Monument at Westfield, and was graced by the Minister of Youth and Sports Hon. Sheriff Gomez.
Due to some financial constraints, we could not celebrate the day in 2009, and this year’s edition was delayed by many national sports journalists associations due to the World Cup in South Africa. As I speak to you now, plans are far ahead for the day to be commemorated in The Gambia in November 2010.
National Sports Awards
One of the ground-breaking initiatives embraced by all Gambians is the Annual Sports Award launched in December 2007. It was only in The Gambia that outstanding sports men and women were not honored at the end of the year. To put an end to that, the Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia in collaboration with Football Digest Newspaper held the first ever National Sports Award on December 26, 2007 at the Jaama Hall Kairaba Beach Hotel, where 18 Gambian sportsmen and sportswomen at home and abroad were recognized for their remarkable performance over the years.
This achievement could not had been possible without the support and trust from the management of the then Football Digest, who came to our aid when many doors were closed on our faces. I seize this opportunity to thank Africell for bailing us out financial to make the 2007 National Sports Award a great success. The maiden edition was graced by three cabinet ministers, senior Government officials, sporting association officials and seven Gambian foreign-based players, among others.
The second edition which was slated for 2008 could not go ahead due to financial constraints, as our main sponsor could not honor the agreement, citing other engagement in the sporting domain such as the signing of the senior national team coach Paul Put.
I am pleased to announce that the second edition of the National Sports Award was held on Saturday April 30th 2009 at the Friendship Hotel in Bakau, where 23 Gambian sportsmen and women including three Sports Journalists were called to the podium to receive honors.
The third edition is slated for December 18th 2010, and all the trophies to be awarded have already being acquired through the collaboration of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). I seize this opportunity to thank our own Mrs. Beatrice Allen for her continuous support.
I urge the incoming Executive Committee to do everything possible to sustain this noble initiative.
Challenges and Recommendations
Despite the numerous achievements registered over the years, my Executive Committee has faced many challenges that deterred our progress.
- The biggest challenge is finance to carry out the numerous development initiatives
- Despite having the equipment for a secretariat, the Executive could not set up one as its sustainability in terms of staff, payment of rent and electricity and others may be a problem.
- Commitment from some Executive Committee members: it is really sad that people want to hold positions, but commitment and dedication were not the order of the day for so many executive members, with only few people doing the donkey job. Please if you know you cannot be effective step down in the interest of the Association.
- Lack of fund raising activities: for the past years we have been initiating some fundraising, but most of them could not materialize, and the few we held were not so successful.
- Membership contributions were not forthcoming before the training program held in April, with only 15 people out of 70 paying their contribution regularly.
- Membership Card: for the past four years since we decided to introduce a standard membership card. However, only 6 people have paid for the cards which were not enough for a printing firm to start working on our cards. We had a proposal from our colleague of making the card in UK and members have to pay to collect their card, but that could not materialize yet.
- Our annual Membership fee of US100 Dollars to the International Sports Press Association is one of the burning issues, as it denied us the opportunity to have AIPS Card for our members
- And the last challenge the Association is facing for members to be able to identify their personal problems from the issues of the Association.
- Based on my little experience with the Association, I recommend to the incoming executive to consider increasing the monthly contribution to enable them face the new challenges of the Association
- To have more helping hands. I propose to the coming executive to revitalize the commissions provided for in the constitution
- Let’s do away with personal issues and discuss issues related to the development of the Association
- Let’s jealously safeguard the image of the Association; it’s no more a small Association and belongs to all of us.
I believe you now have a vivid picture of our programs and activities for the past three years. However, the Executive Committee has endured a lot of constraints to create a vibrant environment for Sports Journalists. Therefore, it must not be frowned upon. Executive Committees have come and gone without registering comparable successes. This Executive Committee inherited a virtually collapsed Association and raised it to one of the most dedicated Associations in the world, not with mere rhetoric but consolidated efforts, as explained above.
Delegates, people sometimes never notice what has been done or achieved; people can only see what remains to be done. With all fairness, the reward of a thing well done is to judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing whilst others judge us by what we have already done or achieved.
Mr. Chairman, a tree is known by its fruit. The successful implementation of our programs and activities for the period under review earned us great respect in the world.
I want to put it to you that I did not come to the Sports Journalists Association to get cheap popularity, but I feel that was one way for me to contribute to the development of Sports in our dear country.
I personally wish to seize this opportunity to thank each and every member of the Executive Committee for the loyalty and invaluable support they have given to me as President.
It was a great pleasure to work with such a group of competent and dedicated individuals. I want you to join me to thank two genuine people. If am standing here today it’s because of their support.
Dodou Bojang and Sainabou Kujabi have been my engine for the past years. I cannot provide enough superlatives to describe the many administrative attributes and skills to describe this two people.
Sainabou Kujabi is experienced, efficient, modest, hardworking and, above all, ensures the Association keeps records.
Fellow delegates, let me assure you that this Executive Committee has fought a good fight, and will continue to support the next executive. We have finished our course, and will help the next executive to finish other courses. We have kept and will continue to keep the faith. Measure not the work until the day is out and labour done.
I wish you all a very successful congress. THANK YOU