Mr. President: Voters registration, football matters

Jun 14, 2021, 10:52 AM

Mr. President, some politicians are disturbing people who are registering to get voter cards in certain places.

Some even go as far as preventing certain tribes from registering. People should not be prevented or intimidated during this process. Both the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials and the security personnel should take tough measures to ensure that such acts do not happen again. Anyone who has any doubt on a person’s nationality should take the matter to the courts. No one should be segregated because of his or her tribe in the registration of voters which will close 11 July, 2021.  

Mr. President, the disturbances by some politicians in the places of registration is a wake-up call for the IEC and security personnel for the campaign, election days and after the announcement of results of the presidential election on 5th December. No one should be allowed to destabilise the country. Militants should know that politicians cannot give them all their needs. Politics should not divide us as a country.  

Mr. President, finance needs to be invested in the sports sector. The support of the government is particularly needed, especially in football. The Gambia has qualified for the first time for the African Nations Cup which will be held in January, 2022 in Cameroon. For that reason, the support of the government is needed to help the team towards its preparation for the tournament. Sports is no longer leisure, it is business and could bring foreign exchange like Brazil is enjoying with its footballers playing in Europe. Sports is all about investment that can also boost the image of the country by bringing tourists; without finance good results cannot be obtained.  

Since the qualification of The Gambia to her first ever African Cup of Nations, on 26th March 2021, the government of The Gambia is yet to announce a bonus for the players and the technical staff as it is the norm across the globe. This gesture from the government will not only reward the team for raising the flag of our dear country - which for many decades has been trying to no avail - but will also motivate them and assure them that their country respects and cares for them. 

We all know that award of match and tournament bonuses are an integral part of football. If not respected by the government, there is a possibility of losing our key players in the near future, whilst potential new players will shun national call ups, and it will also result in poor performance of the team. 

Currently, the team which is undergoing a 2 week training camp in Antalya, Turkey, registered 2 wins and 1 loss out of 3 matches so far despite the low morale in the camp due to the non-announcement or payment of their AFCON qualification bonus, the late payment of their camping allowance, and to add insult to injury, the decision of the Minister of Youth and Sports not to pay Match Bonus for the training camp. 

We have received information from the camp regarding the matter, and that if it were not the personal undertaking made by the GFF President, the players would have boycotted the matches. And as we speak, the Minister is yet to change his position on the matter. 

We advise that the government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports make an urgent announcement of the cash bonus and a piece of land for each player and members of the technical staff. 

Furthermore, in order for the country to better prepare for the AFCON tournament in January next year, it is very urgent that they allocate enough funds to enable the organisation of training camps in the coming FIFA windows in September, October and November this year, to be crowned with a pre-tournament camp. 

In order to achieve the above, the private sector and public enterprises should be encouraged to contribute financially in this direction and be given some incentives by way of tax break. 

Good day!

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