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GAMBIA TAKES BRONZE IN AFRICAN SCHOOLS CHAMPIONSHIP

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..Scan Aid wins cumulative D16M
..But who handles the money and what for?

The Gambia’s Scan Aid School girls won the third-place trophy in the CAF Pan African School football championship in South Africa on Saturday after a 4-3 post-match penalty shootout defeat of Congo.

The two sides played a goalless draw in regulation time but the Brufut-based school girls prevailed in the tie- breaking shootouts to become the third best in African school football.  For their reward, Scan Aid cashed USD150K which, addition to their prize as Wafu champions (USD100K), translate to about D16M.

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But even before the tourney ends, controversy is raging as to whether any money is paid and who will handle the school’s colossal cash prizes. According to the Gambia Football Federation, no money has been paid yet and it had to fund the team’s participation in both the Wafu and continental championships.  In a rebuttal to a news piece suggesting the Wafu prize money might have been paid, the GFF also explained that the prize monies for the event is provided by a charity of the Caf president, Motsepe Foundation who have said it will be used for football development in the winning schools.

However many football fans have started asking which body should be the implementing body for such projects. While it is confirmed that Caf only deals with national associations in this case the GFF, many believed that since there exist a schools football association, an affiliate of the GFF, that body should be responsible for the entire project.

After hearing all these sides, The Standard reached out to the Gambia Football Federation’s General Secretary

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Lamin Jassey for explanations.

He said the idea of an African schools football championship was conceived by the Caf president Patrice Motsepe whose Family Foundation pledged USD10M as cash prizes.

Mr Jassey further said according to the foundation the money is going to be used for football development in the winning schools, in this case, Scan Aid school. “However up until now the foundation has not informed neither Caf no the national associations concern as to how that will be implemented. It is also very clear that no money has paid to neither Caf, the GFF or Scan Aid,” Mr Jassey said.

He further explained that when the idea was taken to Caf, the continental body has engaged the ministries of education of member countries with a view for them and their government to take it up. “In our case we engaged   the ministry of education and they have even pledged D500.000 towards the Gambian schools’ participation but the money has not yet come. But as the national football federation the GFF cannot sit by and therefore had to pay all bills connected with the two teams, New Yundum and Scan Aid schools’ partcipataion in Wafu in Cape Verde,” he said.

According to him New Yundum boys finished runners up in the Wafu while the Scan Aid girls won the zonal championship and qualified for the finals in South Africa. “Again the GFF had to pay all bills of the team and officials amounting to a cumulative sum of over D5M,” Mr Jassey said.

He explained that the GFF acted because it is the national football association of the Gambia and therefore cannot sit by watch Scan Aid miss the important tournament they have qualified for.

Mr Jassey said the GFF has never engaged or demanded any refund from the Scan Aid or any group. “We have the schools football association as an affiliate association whose president represented in the GFF executive committee and has been involved in this programme from the beginning,”Mr  Jassey concluded. 

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