#Article (Archive)

Sigh of Relief for Returning Handball Players

Apr 24, 2009, 7:47 AM

It is a big relief to see the return of six Gambian athletes who were victims of a road accident on their way home from an international tournament held in Bamako, Republic of Mali earlier this month.

At that tournament, which included seven nations, namely The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Mali, and Sierra Leone, The Gambia emerged 4th place.   

However in spite of a fair performance by the Gambian team, which incidentally had arrived late for the tournament , the circumstances that attended their travel, accommodation, and eating arrangements has left much to be desired. This trip therefore should serve as an eye opener not only for the Handball Federation, but also for all sports associations, for the Ministry of Youth an Sports, and sports institutions in the country. Unfortunately it is one more case of a tragic event having to happen before something gets done, and things properly organized and regulated. A major catastrophe took place in 2002 when the Senior School Sports Association organized the annual secondary school sports. Although this event had been going on for some years as an interesting and popular one, that particular year a part of the Stadium railings collapsed at the place nick-named "Democracy" causing serious injuries to numerous youths, including a few deaths. It was after that tragic incident that the relevant authorities adopted and implemented measures for proper security, organizational arrangements, and crowd control at the stadium.

It is again very heartening to see the authorities respond with sound measures for future international travel. These include the establishment of adequate management mechanisms for ascertaining the mode of travel of national teams, ensuring proper logistical arrangements, and securing travel insurance. These measures will be monitored and ensured by a process of application and approval between sports associations and the Ministry. So far this is good, but it would also be a good idea for this and other sports related issues to be studied and discussed by a conference of associations and all stakeholders, a conference that is much talked about but yet to be actually realized. The last of such important conferences and reviews was way back in 2002, about good seven years ago!