10th Edition: SJAG honour Gambia’s sports stars

BY: Alieu Ceesay

For ten years running, the Gambia National Sports Awards Night organised by the Sports Journalists’ Association of The Gambia (SJAG) has been ‘the sports actors’ party’.

Hundreds of people from within and outside the tiny West African nation gathered at one of the country’s hotels, Coco Ocean, to witness and celebrate the sports heroes and heroines for their incredible performance in 2018.

Prominent among the attendees were, the First Lady of The Gambia, Madam Fatou Bah-Barrow, Senegalese Sports Minister Matar Ba, The Gambia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambedou, Sports Journalists from the Senegalese Sports Press, and the Senegalese High Commissioner to The Gambia, Saliou Njie.

It was the 10th edition of the sports awards, which is now the country’s most respected and credible National Sports Awards. Launched in 2007 by the Sports Journalists’ Association of The Gambia (SJAG), the initiative “National Sports Award” is meant to celebrate, honour and award legends and active sportsmen and women.

This event has over the past nine years witnessed the decoration of many men and women in sports, in a grand style. Among those awarded in the past includes, but not limited to three-time “CAF Best Referee Award” winner Papa Gassama.

The event has not only motivated active sportsmen and women but continues to serve as a source of inspiration for aspiring young sportsmen and women, who are looking up to the awardees as sports role models. The milestone anniversary offers a chance to reflect on the event’s growth and impact.

Senegalese Sports Minister Matar Ba said such event will greatly impact on the development of sports in The Gambia. The Gambia and Senegal are neighbouring countries that share a lot in common.

Minister Ba, who had earlier met the Gambian President Adama Barrow, applauded the relationship between SJAG and their Senegalese counterpart, ANPS.

Ndey Mariam Njie, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Sports of The Gambia stated: “This initiative will positively contribute in the development of sports in The Gambia.”

Challenges

The journey has not been a smooth one but with the dynamic leadership of the current executive headed by President Musa Sise and those before them, the SJAG has remained steadfast. As difficult as it is, raising the required funds for such event has been a major challenge but the support and partnership from individuals and institutions continue to be a driving force.

SJAG President Musa Sise stated: “I want to thank you all for honouring our invitation to be with us to celebrate our sports men and women. I want to thank all the individuals and institutions that have supported us. As a professional body, we are committed to continue with the award to better motivate our athletes.”

Veteran sports journalist and honorary life president of SJAG, Pap Saine commend the First Lady of The Gambia for gracing the event. “I want to congratulate all the nominees for their outstanding performance in 2018. I want to salute the SJAG for organising the 10th edition.”

SJAG-ANPS football friendly

The relationship between the Gambia and Senegal Sports Press Associations is a model for many countries that are separated by borders. The two associations have enjoyed an enviable friendship. Members of the two associations continue to attend each other’s National Sports Awards. On the sideline of the event, the two associations played an international friendly, where the host SJAG defeated the visitors ANPS 4-0. The presidents of the two associations, Mr Musa Sise and Abdoulie Thiam have expressed their commitment to further strengthen the ties.

Gamtel FC Sulayman Kuyateh receiving male coach of the year award
Gamtel FC Sulayman Kuyateh receiving male coach of the year award

Nominees and winners

Best Female Team of The Year

Gambia Armed Forces Volleyball Team

Red Scorpions Football Team (Winner)

GAF Beach Volleyball Team

Best Female Coach

Chorro Mbenga - Red Scorpions Female Football Team

Mariama Bom Sowe - National Female Team

Mariama Sallah - National Athletics Team(Winner)

Outstanding Senior School in Sports

Bottrop Senior School (Winner)

The Gambia Senior School

Essau Senior School

Male Coach of The Year

Mattar M’Boge - National U-20 Coach

Pa Barrow - National Beach Volleyball Team coach

Sulayman Kuyateh - Coach of Gamtel/Gamcel FC (Winner)

Best Referee of the Year

Bubacarr Bass

Lamin N Jammeh (Winner)

Mustapha Bojang

Best Female Athlete

Adama Tamba - Red Scorpions FC (Winner)

Abie Kujabi - GAF Volleyball team

Ola Buwaro - Athlete

Best Male Team of the Year

Gamtel FC - 2018 League Champions

SK East Male Volleyball Team - 2018 Volleyball Champions

2018 Gambia U-20 Team - WAFU Champions (Winner)

Best Local-based Athlete

Adama Tamba - Red Scorpions Female Team

Bubacarr Jallow - Gamtel FC

Abdoulie Ndow alias Hoyantan - Wrestler of Club Ndongo Ceesay (Winner)

Best Foreign-Based Athlete

Faye Njie - Judoka (Finland)

Musa Barrow - Atalanta (Italy)

Omar Colley - Sampdoria (Winner)

Best foreign-based athlete won by Omar Colley
Best foreign-based athlete won by Omar Colley

Sports Personality of the Year

Lamin Kaba Bajo, President of The Gambia Football Federation was given the “Sports Personality of the Year” accolade, in recognition of his achievements as GFF President.

Lamin Kaba Bajo - Sports Personality of the Year award winner
Lamin Kaba Bajo - Sports Personality of the Year award winner
Special award winner Chernor Samba
Special award winner Chernor Samba
Special award winner Nusrat Ceesay
Special award winner Nusrat Ceesay

Special Awards

There were special awards for Beach Volleyball as a breakthrough sport and Gambian coach Tapha Manneh in Liberia.

Also among those that received honorary awards at the glamorous event were, UK-based former Gambian sprinter Nusrat Ceesay, ex-Gambia international striker Cherno Samba, Senegalese Sports Journalists Association (ANPS), former FIFA referee Modou Sowe, Real de Banjul president William Abraham, Senegalese Sports Minister Matar Ba and ex-Gambia Football Association Secretary General Jammeh EK Bojang.