By Lamin Cham
Most, if not all the major nawettan centres in The Greater Banjul Area have cancelled their annual summer football programmes, and unlike last year, the reason is not Covid-19, but unavailability of playing grounds. The latest to announce the cancellation of this most popular domestic football programme is Serekunda East, the biggest zone in the country.
The zone’s administrative body, Sesdo, issued a statement yesterday informing stakeholders that the nawettan will not be held this year “because renovation works at the zone’s playing ground at SK East Park are not completed”.
“The Sesdo Executive Committee met the Gambia Football Federation leadership on 31st August at Football House to discuss why the renovation works stopped at the park and the GFF has promised they will endeavour to mobilise resources to ensure that the facility is delivered in the next three months, and a progress meeting has been scheduled to take place on 15th September.
“Thus, the General Assembly has unanimously agreed that the Sesdo 2021 Nawettan be cancelled due to lack of a playing ground as a result of the delay and stoppage of the GFF renovation works,” Sesdo announced in its statement.
In Brikama, committee president Victor Sambou confirmed to The Standard that a similar fate has befallen the town’s playing ground, Box Bar, where renovation works, again by the GFF have stopped, leaving the field in a very bad shape and impossible to host matches. “We cannot play at the Box Bar and currently we are engaging the clubs for a meeting and one of the options is to cancel the nawettan altogether because the other field, SSP, has no perimeter fence which makes the place unsuitable for security reasons,” Sambou said.
Pa Yusupha Samba the president of the Bakau Zone said there will be no nawettan in Bakau because the ground is not yet ready. “Even though our ground is much ahead of others in terms of work done so far, it is not in any shape to host matches. My understanding is that there are plans by the teams to stage a ward tournament which we will support if it happens,” he commented.
A committee official in Serekunda West too told The Standard that the West Park is not useable this year while officials in Banjul are hoping to use the old carpet at the KG V to stage the nawettan.
The Standard contacted the first vice president of the GFF and project manager Bakary Jammeh who confirmed that works on the grounds have been delayed. “The GFF has undertaken to upgrade these grounds because we too use them for our league matches. We got Fifa to approve funds for these projects but accessing them have been delayed. The GFF is committed to completing the works on the grounds to bring them to standard because we know that infrastructure is key to football development. We are currently engaging the zones about the delay of the works about which we profoundly apologise,” Mr Jammeh said.