The Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Sports Council (NSC) wishes to bring to the attention of the general public the following information:
The Hand Ball Association embarked on a trip to Bamako, Mali by road on 30th March 2009 to participate in a Handball competition "The Challenge Trophy for Zone 2 African Countries" which includes The Gambia, sanctioned by the Confederation for Africa Handball (CAHB) and the International Handball Federation (IHF)
The Association participated in the competition and was placed 4th overall
On the way back from the competition, approximately 150 kilometers outside Bamako, an accident occurred in which the vehicle carrying the players, participants of a coaching clinic and officials, overturned resulting in injuries to them
The injuries sustained, though not life threatening, were serious to warrant at least four of the passengers and two others to be sent back to Bamako for further treatment
The remaining passengers were treated on the spot by the medical assistant that accompanied the team who is a trained nurse
Transport was organized for the same passengers to continue their homeward bound journey to The Gambia via Basse where they were met on arrival by executive leaders of local government including the Chairman of the Area Council and the Governor and representatives of the region
On arrival in Basse the team was also medically checked before proceeding home to the Greater Banjul Area
On return home The National Sports Council (NSC) arranged for some of the passengers injured to have an additional medical review at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH)
The NSC also convened a meeting on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th April to ascertain and determine the true circumstances surrounding the trip to Mali and the consequential accident. This involved reports from those who went on the trip, namely officials of the Handball Association, the Sports Development Officer of the NSC and also some of the players and officials
On Thursday 16th April 2009 a preliminary report with recommendations was produced by The Interim Chairman of The NSC and submitted to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Youth and Sports detailing events as deduced from the information obtained at both meetings
A report produced by the Handball Association sanctioned by the NSC at its Council meetings on the matter was also submitted to the Permanent Secretary
On Friday 17th April 2009 based on both reports received by the Minister of Youth and Sports and regular updates from the NSC, the Minister was accompanied by staff of his Ministry and visited the families of the remaining six persons who are in Bamako (for ease of reference to be referred to as "The Bamako Six")
During the course of his visit the Honourable Minister assured the families that efforts were fully in place to have their relatives and loved ones back home in The Gambia by Tuesday 21st April 2009 via Senegal
On Saturday 18th April 2009 The Minister of Youth and Sports together with his Permanent Secretary, Deputy Permanent Secretary, the Chairman of the NSC, the Vice Chairman of The NSC and the Executive Secretary of the NSC worked in coordination to ensure that:
"The Bamako Six" were provided with some money for their upkeep until their return home and this was done
Relevant authorities and representatives locally and internationally in Bamako and Dakar were contacted to ensure all necessary travel documents were in place to facilitate a smooth airlift of "The Bamako Six"
Other additional and supporting action required was carried out to facilitate the smooth return of "The Bamako Six"
Against this background the Preliminary Report submitted to the Ministry of Youth and Sports demonstrates that the manner in which the whole trip was planned by the Handball Association was bad to say the least. This is especially so when the Association decided to travel by road when there was an option to do so by air which for the distance involved would have been a much better approach.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports through the NSC has therefore agreed the following recommendations:
1. Short term Recommendations (Urgent and Immeadiate)
* Arrangement to be promptly put in place to bring back the 6 persons left in Bamako
* All persons involved in the accident to be medically checked by reference to the RVTH
* Media releases (Print and broadcast) be effected within 48 hours
2. Medium Term Recommendations (Timelines to be Agreed)
* The Executive Secretary NSC to put in place a document detailing and making it mandatory for travel by Associations to be formalised and cleared at NSC level with signed approval from Chairman NSC and onward written advice of such travel to the SOS and PS for use by all Associations wishing to take part in national and international competitions
* A risk management mechanism to be in place to ascertain mode of travel and all necessary logistics including travel insurance
* All necessary international correspondence to associations for international competition, conferences and financial support must be disclosed to the NSC by Associations and copies deposited with the council
* A total review of the governance of Sports Associations at the forthcoming planned National Sports Conference
It is also recommended that due to the manner in which The President of the Handball Association Mr. Kebba Jobe and the coach Mr. M L Dumbuya managed the whole trip, that they be suspended from holding executive office or decision making positions in any sports association with immediate effect pending the outcome of the final report.
In October 2008 a letter from The Ministry of Youth and Sports referenced MT23/01/Part 3/(26) clearly provided that approval from the Ministry of Youth and Sports needed to be obtained prior to travel by any sports association.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports the NSC therefore wish to reiterate and re-emphasize that any sports association wishing to travel outside the Gambia must only do so by air transport (plane) and not by road. The only exception to this is where travel is to Senegal or Guinea Bissau where the Association must demonstrate that this is indeed the best, most efficient and effective mode of transportation. In all cases travel insurance must be in place for all delegates.
Finally, the NSC, with immediate effect and with the active oversight of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, will actively ensure that in accordance with the above recommendations, a checklist of compliance detailing all criteria to be met before departure from The Gambia is signed off by key officers of the NSC and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.