Speaking shortly before the national relay team flew out to the Nigerian Grand Prix last week, Joof said his association came up with the idea of finding professional careers for national athletes to avoid them running into joblessness once they passed their peak in sports. “Too many old generation athletes ended up being without careers after their days in sports. So some years ago the GAA made consultations with security organisations to convince them to reinvigorate their sports units by including athletes who would become servicemen [and women] in addition to their sports duties for the unit and country,” he said.
Mr Joof said the idea was well-received by the heads of security units especially Ousman Sonko who was then the Inspector General of Police.
The GAA boss went further to state that as a result of this policy, more than 60 per cent of Gambia national athletes are employed either in the police force, prisons, or the armed forces. “We are particularly satisfied and profoundly delighted that Gambian security forces have now got fully equipped and active sports departments especially in athletics and football. This is very encouraging and is a life-changer for Gambian sportsmen and women,” he said.
Joof himself a former national and police athletics team captain, said the future of athletics changed with the successful running of sports in the security organisations, which combined now produce the best and finest runners for The Gambia. “This is a great feeling for me as a former policeman,” he concluded.
Some of the best examples of police and military athletes are male and female long distance runners, Lamin Sanneh, Mariama T Jallow and Hoja Secka. Former Gambian Olympian, Adama Njie, was a service woman.
By Lamin Cham