“We are here to inspire girls as we have a lot of volleyball queens in Gambia” – Sainabou Tambedou

Sainabou Tambedou is basking in the glory of her finest hour as Gamtel/Gamcel’s victorious volleyball Cup captain.

Gamtel/Gamcel female volleyball team Saturday registered a momentous win over record league winners Gambia Armed Forces to put a halt to their rival’s dominance in the sport. It was a one-sided knockout final in which the telecom team emerged winners by 3 sets to nothing.

With plaudits still rolling in for the team, Abdoulie Bah had the distinct pleasure of interviewing their workaholic cup-winning captain Sainabou Tambedou, as she unwinds after long weekend of celebrations.

Questions:

Gambia Sports – Congratulations and thank you for talking to talking us Sainabou. Take us through your brilliant knockout run. How did you pull that off as a team?

Sainabou Tambedou – After the balloting was done, my teammates said to themselves that we aren’t lucky because we had to face a big team before crossing to the finals, but this was one of the major things that boasted our morals. Our first encounter was with the SK East ladies which was more like a training session for us, we had an easy ride on them then rode over to the police the following weekend and gave them a quick 2-0 which frustrated their entire team before lights went off at the stadium. The match was rescheduled, we played them again with the same spirit to the last point and it was finally won the 3-1 to climb to the finals. The preparation became harder on us, the coach adjusted the training time to 4pm when the sun is scorching. He gave us programs we despised and reminded us that we have a great task ahead of us. The 21st we played collectively as a team making sure each point counts with the belief that it wasn't over until it was over. We pulled a very good performance that got the spectators on their toes waiting on the final point to jubilate an outstanding victory and the record we've broken. I knew we could do it hence nothing can stop a man who desires to reach the top in sports. I'm glad to have put a stop to GAF's dominance in grand style with a 3-0 win.

Gambia Sports – In becoming a Cup winner, you’ve also bagged an individual honor – how did it feel to have successfully made it to become the very best attacker in the league? What are your strengths in the attacking role?

Sainabou Tambedou – It’s about that time I got big headed a little, lol. I feel honoured with the best attacker award this year knowing I’ve always been Gambia’s best spiker even though the federation has never acknowledged it. I'm grateful for the many awards I've received. My strength in the attacking role boils down to the fact that my teams victory lies within my powers, knowing this makes me put up my best performance in ensuring that each ball the setter passes me becomes a point worth jubilating.

Gambia Sports – How is it like playing for Gamtel/Gamcel? Are you at times tempted to join your rivals GAF – they’re known for providing more incentives in football?

Sainabou Tambedou – Playing for Gamtel/Gamcel has been the best decision I’ve made in choosing a team. I’m proud to say I’ve got the best teammates, coach, the humblest team manager and the list can go on and on. I am never tempted to join GAF based on incentives and the likes because anybody that knows Gamtel/Gamcel teams in volleyball would tell you we lack nothing in the game. Let me also make it known to you that we're always the best dressed team.

Gambia Sports – Ha-ha, nice. Your exploits on the court have not gone unnoticed, at national level you’re the captain for the Gambia female volleyball team, correct me if I’m wrong. How did you make a name for yourself in the sport? 

Sainabou Tambedou – I am not the captain of the national volleyball team but a key player for both indoor and beach volleyball. The key elements that gave me a name in the sport are courage, determination and having the zeal to push harder even when the going seem tough. “It's not the size of man but the size of his heart that matters” – Evander Holyfield. I thank God for the many positive people in my life in both Gambia and Senegal who constantly motivate me to do better.

Gambia Sports – So then how did you deal with personal failures and periods of bad form or results?

Sainabou Tambedou – I believe no matter how far life pushes you down, no matter how much you're hurt you can always bounce back. In all honesty, I've cried my heart out to most of my failures and bad results, swore that I was going to quit etc. This question reminds me of last year’s knockout incident when we won police to cross over to the finals I got suspended, and the team disqualified because I played for Dakar University Club (DUC) in 2015, this event marked the saddest day in my career. We cried as a team when we got the news, continue training as a team, came back better and today we're celebrating as a team. In times that I experience bad form or results, I only train harder to be better than I was. I experienced this in 2014 which made me traveled to Senegal to develop myself where I met great coaches and a player named Fama Dione currently signed by TPM Racing Volley in France who served as a great inspiration to me.

Gambia Sports – What are some potential obstacles for Gambian girls who want to pursue volleyball?

Sainabou Tambedou – The major hindrance for most of the girls I met is the belief their parents have especially (mothers) towards sports. Majority of them are still with the notion that sports is manly, which is meant for the boys alone. Other girls believe it's a total waste of one’s time since we can never succeed in it and further stresses that it deforms your shape as a lady. We are here to make a difference in inspiring the rest of the girls that one could play volleyball, be a degree holder and a fashion icon. We have a lot of volleyball queens in Gambia.

Gambia Sports – What’s Sai like when you aren't training or playing volleyball?

Sainabou Tambedou – I hang with friends during my leisure times or go photo shooting for my designer because I have a great passion for fashion and beauty.

Gambia Sports – What is one piece of advice you can offer to all women in sport, especially volleyball players around the country?

Sainabou Tambedou – I’d love to implore them to continue training harder because after every hardship comes ease and champions keep playing until they get it right. To the women playing volleyball, our aim isn't just to stop here so let's keep the ball flying until we go pro. Set your goals high, and don't stop till you get there.

Gambia Sports – Closing question from me, what would be your ultimate achievement in the sport?

Sainabou Tambedou – My ultimate achievement would be the day I'd raise the bar higher for my country. Right now, Gambia is ranked 8th in African beach volleyball. I'd want to see our name in the Guinness book of records and recognised internationally.

Gambia Sports – Anything else you’d like to share?

Sainabou Tambedou – I’m appealing to the ministry of sports, GNOC, Gambia volleyball federation to help develop and indoor volleyball court for our future stars.

Strengthen their rapports with other developed volleyball nations to create contacts for those willing to pursue this game as a career.