We commend and congratulate the senior national team for the significant achievement.
Mr. President, Biri, the late veteran Gambian footballer was a role model and patriotic citizen who used to pay for his own air tickets to represent the country when football players were given less money compared to today’s age. Former Gambian captain and superstar Jatto Ceesay used to give his own cash to fellow teammates as a token of encouragement.
Mr. President, Senegalese international Sadio Mane is a perfect example. He has built a hospital, school, mosque, and supported his entire community with cash each year during the Holy Month of Ramadan and continues to support humanity in numerous forms.
What is stopping Gambian players from investing towards the country’s development rather than boycotting a token of appreciation?
Mr. President, we have seen professional footballers setting up charitable organisations, donating their wages and/or match bonuses, supporting the less privileged in society. Why not Gambian footballers? In 1979, when Gambia lost against Liberia 1-0 in the final of the Tolbert Trophy in Monrovia, regrouping six West African states, The Gambia government allocated each player one hundred dalasi.
We also commend the Minister of Youth and Sports, Bakary Y. Badjie for clearing the air that the government does not owe any player match bonuses. He said from September last year to date, the government has spent 105 million Dalasi for the national team match preparations and the government even went further to charter flights for their overseas matches. Bonuses were increased to 100 percent.
Mr. President, we agree with him for dialogue between his Ministry and the Scorpions to find a lasting solution but Footballers should bear in mind that the nation is behind them.
The minister clarified that the D11.1 million is a token of appreciation to the boys and not related to their match bonuses as claimed.
“What we presented at the State House was some kind of a reward (a token of appreciation) for the team qualifying for the AFCON. D11.1 million is what the government can provide at the moment for the national team for qualifying,” he stated.
Mr. President, with all these privileges accorded to the players, what more can they ask for apart from being grateful.
There are several sportsmen and women in the country doing well like footballers of the senior national team but were not privileged to such a gesture from the government.
It is good to know that in the last tournament of the African Cup of Nations in 2019 in Cairo, the winner, Algeria went with 248.4 million Dalasi. The runner-up, Senegal went with 138 million Dalasi. Third and fourth places went 110.4 million Dalasi. Quarter finalists received 46 million dalasis. Teams eliminated before the quarter final received 36.8 million Dalasi. The 24 teams that participated in the tournament each received 11.4 million Dalasi.
Finally Mr. President, Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) needs urgent attention to achieve its projects to facilitate easy disembarkment of essential commodities. This needs to be prioritised since they have tough competition in the sub-region. This will prevent escalation of essential commodity prices like rice and sugar in the local market. We were informed that damages on vessels nowadays have skyrocketed. This will have a direct impact on the prices of sugar and rice. We urge the high authorities of GPA to seriously look into the matter.