President Barrow: Gambia Has a Cause to Celebrate WAFU Success

BY: Alieu Ceesay

The Gambia has a cause to celebrate the success of The Gambia U-20 team at the just ended WAFU tournament against big football nations like Senegal and Ivory Coast, according to President Adama Barrow.

Barrow said no Gambian was prouder than him after the U-20 success. The team returned home last weekend after winning the 2018 WAFU sub-regional tournament after defeating host Liberia 2-1 in the final in Monrovia.

The Young Scorpions went unbeaten throughout the tournament, something very rare in football tournaments. The team captain, Basiru Mbye presented the trophy to the President. The meeting with President Barrow was preceded with the meeting the team had with former international footballer and now President of Liberia, George Weah in Monrovia. President Weah used the meeting with the team to donate US$10, 000 to the boys.

“If you want to walk quickly you walk alone, but if you want to walk far you work in a group,” a proverb President Barrow used to call for unity in Gambian sports. He reminded that success can only come about if there is unity across all sectors. He advised the sports family to open up the window of reconciliation and be united in the spirit of sports and interest of The Gambia.

“It is our slogan that The Gambia is back but I think today, football is back in The Gambia!” He added: “This is a big thing in the history of this country. Despite I am on holiday but I said I will create time to see you so that we can discuss about football and sports. As a President, I am really proud!”

He used the meeting to reaffirm his government’s commitment to supporting Gambian football. GFF President Lamin Kabba Bajo said his office and the football fraternity was very grateful to Barrow for cutting short his annual holiday to meet the gallant boys. This, according to the GFF boss, is another demonstration of the interest the President has in football.

Bajo informed the President that in addition to the main trophy; the team also won Man of the Match three times and also overall best goalkeeper of the tournament. The accolades which came after many years of being trophy less, Bajo said came after many months and years of hard work.

While appreciating the financial constraints of the government towards sports development, Kabba Bajo said GFF needs urgent government’s intervention, especially the issue of Coach for the Senior National Team. He reminded the keenly listening President Barrow that the Senior Scorpions will be hosting Algeria in September for the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers.

In what was a perfect platform for the GFF to put things straight to the President, Bajo told the President that the name of Gambian football is in the blacklist of FIFA after the National Sports Council suspended the GFF Executive, but later rescinded the decision following President Barrow’s intervention. He therefore, urged the President to continue intervening to mend the undesirable relationship between the GFF and the Sports Ministry.

The Gambia’s Youth and Sports Minister Henry Gomez said it is unfortunate that his ministry could not support the team’s participation in the tournament due to the financial constraints. As a ministry, he assured that his office will continue to provide the enabling environment for the development and promotion of Gambian sports.

He congratulated the team and technical staff for the deserved accolade. “I want to thank the GFF for the good work they are doing,” he concluded in a rather short statement.

A proud-looking Gambia U-20 Coach Mattar M’Boge said the preparations preceding the tournament was good and that paid off in Liberia. M’Boge was full of praises for the GFF Executive for providing all that was needed for the boys to participate in the tournament and win the tournament.

The U-20 gaffer assured the President that the team will continue working hard to make the country proud and joined the President in calling for unity and oneness among the stakeholders. “The team is highly motivated.”

Also in attendance at the ceremony were executive members of the GFF, Permanent Secretary and Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The ceremony was chaired by Amie Bojang Sissoho, Director of Press at the Office of the President.