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School Sports Cannot be Neglected

Feb 11, 2009, 2:52 AM

I was very encouraging and reassuring to see newspaper coverage of school sports over the weekend. A thrilling match was reported between MarinaInternationalHigh School and Ndow's ComprehensiveSeniorSchool, in which not only did players and supporters appreciate a good game, but also the players revealed a great depth of talent and skills that can effectively be tapped for future development. Similarly the female teams of The Gambia Senior Secondary and CrabIsland played games on Friday competing in the finals of the Nitelife Championship. This involved a total of eight participating schools. Also of great significance was the report on the formation of SNAPS which is a sports association for 11 private schools in the country.

All these events give an indication of the revival of school sports in The Gambia. Some will recall that in the '40's, '50's and '60's the nurturing grounds for sports and future sportspeople were the schools and school competitions. Several school boys and girls have ended up being stars on our national teams particularly in the disciplines of athletics, football, tennis and cricket. The explanation for their success is their training and experience from an early age when they were properly coached and corrected through the school system. It is also as youngsters that sportspeople show their highest interest, energy and enthusiasm to learn and develop skills.

With such benefits and the potential for sports development in the country one wonders why the sports associations and authorities do not promote and integrate sports in our schools.

It is because schools sports lies under the remit of two separate departments of state, Education and Youth and Sports respectively.These two departments should meet regularly and synchronise their policies for the effective revival of school sports. The Department of State for Education should review existing policy and try to bring about the implementation of sports programmes in all schools, urban as well as rural. The Department of Youth and Sports should do the same and encourage the sporting associations to give assistance to schools. The National Sports Council, being an umbrella body for national sports development, should look at this important issue and direct their energies seriously in the direction of school sports. As is strongly enshrined in the National Policy and Programme of Action, sports will never develop properly or effectively if it is not propagated at the grassroots level mainly in the schools. All those sporting nations who excel have sporting programmes in schools and junior academies. Why do the Gambian sporting authorities not have the same?

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