Mahad Senior Secondary School sensational sprinter, Awa Badjie has revealed to Gambia Sport that she is “disturbed” by the lack of any athletics competition by The Gambia Secondary School Athletics Association due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the public gathering restrictions by the government.
In a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), President Adama Barrow had declared that all public gatherings including sports are suspended in March 2020. This declaration was at a time when schools and athletes were preparing for the Gambia Secondary School Athletics Association annual national championship.
The sports industry was affected by the pandemic and the government banning public gatherings including sports does not help school going athletes either. Even though The Gambia government has eased the embargo on the restrictions of public gatherings and sports, it has been two years of no Secondary School Athletic Championship.
Awa Badjie of Mahaad has decried the lack of athletics championship by the Secondary School Athletic Association. She said it has disturbed her athletics career.
“The inter-schools did not take place in the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has disturbed me a lot,” Awa mourns.
Awa added: “I was expecting last year to be my best year for the moment because I have been training for months but unfortunately, information came from the Ministry of Youth and Sports that there will be no inter-school which made me totally discouraged because it was my best year so far.”
Lamin Jammeh, a 100m and 200m specialist of the Mahaad Senior Senior Secondary expressed his dissatisfaction with training without any competition. “Over the past two years, I have been training without any competition. I spent so much money and time in training without any competition. All my training went in vain. I am disappointed that I could not showcase my talent.” he pondered.
Kaddy Mambureh, a student of St. Peter’s Technical Junior and Senior Secondary who doubled as a national athlete for The Gambia also reveals her predicaments to Gambia Sports.
She bemoaned the lack of competition.
“Covid-19 really affected us athletes especially the ones who were in Grade 12. Some of them graduated from senior school without completing due to Covid-19. It affected me too because I am a national athlete and it has been two years without any competition,” the St. Peter’s tack queen said.
The Sports Coordinator for Region 2 of the Gambia Secondary School Athletic Association, Lamin Fadera said Gambia Athletic Association (GAA) was not able to select junior athletes due to the absence of the Secondary School Athletic competition.
“Covid-19 has a lot of impact on athletics in schools. The Gambia used to scout it junior athletes from schools but they were not able to do that in the past years due to the spread of Covid-19. The inter house and inter school athletics championships helps athletes to enhance their performance,” Mr Fadera said.
He added: “Athletes normal travel to Senegal and other African countries for competitions. At least a group of athletes used to travel abroad to represent The Gambia in athletics competitions but all these do not happen this year because of the pandemic.”
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through its Mobilizing Media in the Fight Against COVID-19 in partnership with Mai-Media and Gambia Sports.