#Sports

Covid-19 deforms Gambia’s Women 1st Division League

May 27, 2021, 12:40 PM | Article By: Arfang M.S. Camara

The impact of Covid-19 on Women Footballers in Division One of the Gambian league has been severe.

The confirmation of the first positive Covid-19 case in The Gambia on 17th March 2020 led to the suspension of sports in the country, particularly women football for over a year. The pandemic also resulted to the delay for the commencement of the 2020/2021 league season, which according to women players really affected them.

The pandemic also led to some women league players getting married, while other built weight as a result of the long wait for the resumption of the league.

“The covid-19 has really hit us hard and what was provided for by CAF and FIFA through The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) was not sufficient for us. We are still suffering financially. Transportation refund is even a challenge for some teams,” Mariama Dukanda, Abuko United player said.

According to her, Gambian women league clubs desperately need support. She added that as players, they are still in it because of the passion for the sports, but are still suffering as a result of the pandemic.

Adama Tamba, Red Scorpions striker, said the covid-19 pandemic did not only affect her but her teammates as well.

“The pandemic prevented us from training and playing due to restrictions put in place by authorities. It has also made us ‘lazy’ while other built weight,” she stated.

Tamba, a proven goal-poacher for her side, noted that the pandemic has also affected them in terms of their earnings, while saying that most of them heavily depend on football for survival.

Adama Tamba, 22, had been very consistent for Red Scorpions female side in terms of banging goals and topping the goal-scoring charts in the Women League Division One.

Panda Bah, a team captain for Interior FC, stated that covid-19 really affected her as a senior player, adding that the emergence of the virus left them confused and devastated as it has led to some of them quitting football, while others find it very hard to cope with the situation.

“This pandemic is not a good thing at all, because it affects us physically, mentally and physiologically. Majority of us as ladies, got married and had children during the covid-19 which dragged us back,” she went on.

Penda, who doubles as the captain for The Gambia Women National Team, added that they went through a lot by not also getting adequate information about the resumption of the league, which was suspended for more than a year.

According to the midfielder, the pandemic made her and some team mates built weight.

Penda Bah, 22, in 2019 played for then newly promoted Nigeria Women Premier League side, Dream Stars, but returned to the country with Interior FC at the end of her loan deal.

Chorro Mbenga-Nyassi, head coach, Red Scorpions, also noted that the pandemic really hampered their plans and programmes, noting that she was not the only one affected, but the entire women teams and players.

“This has really affected almost all women players in the league because it has prevented some from training and some are building weight, while some quit football and got married,” she said.

The pandemic has not only affected Women First Division League players, but also The Gambia Football Federation (GFF), who also had to adhere to the reactions which affected them and the players.

Sainey Sissoho-M’borge, Women Football coordinator at The Gambia Football Federation, noted that they have many challenges centered around the impact of covid-19 in the country.

“The pandemic badly affected women footballers in the country, because for months, most of them have not played or trained with their teammates, and as a result, most of them have to stay at home to protect themselves against the coronavirus, which has registered many deaths in the country,” she pointed out.

Sainey, a former national player for The Gambia, who featured at the 2012 Fifa U17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan, added that the positive development for women footballers was the Covid-19 Relief Support given to teams.

“The support from the GFF helped boosted the financial status of teams in the league; reorganised themselves ahead of the new league season,” she noted.

According to UN statistics about the economic impacts of covid-19 on women in sports in The Gambia, “as for support for women’s sport was making huge strides in 2019 after years of incremental, but important progress, the future is uncertain about the continued momentum of gender equality in sport due to the economic crisis resulting from the covid-19 outbreak.”

Meanwhile, research virologists have claimed that covid-19 is here to stay as part of the already existing bodies of viruses like HIV, SARs, and Ebola.

The effects of COVID-19 continue ravaging sporting activities around the globe, ranging from mega sporting events, competitions, team training, meetings and other related sporting activities.

As of 21th May 2021, The Gambia officially registered 178 covid-19 related deaths and 5, 978 positive cases.

At least 26,593 are already vaccinated against COVID-19 as of 18 May 2021, while 300 people have received their 2nd dose, bringing the total number to 26,893.

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