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Friday, September 18, 2020

Mansally Foundation inspires hope – wins him humanitarian award

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The foundation, which is called the Mansally Foundation, was started as an avenue to give back to the Tallinding community that nurtured him in his youth.

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Mansally, who is in his eighth season in the US Major League Soccer and his third with Real Salt Lake, has been a shining example of the community. He previously donated football equipments to the children back home as well as helping others with school expenses. 

But while those seemingly small efforts can go great distances, it is his work with Malla Manneh that drove him to start the foundation.

Manneh was forced to leave school at a young age after being stricken with cancer. She underwent treatment in Senegal, but was told she would need treatment elsewhere to survive the battle.

So Mansally decided to take up her natural quest for survival and started raising money through his Foundation. 

 “My decision to begin the Mansally Foundation is based on the lives and the condition of the community where I grew up. It is the community that made me who I am today [and] the community who stood by me on my journey,” Mansally said on his foundation website www.mansallyfoundation.org. 

“I am blessed and lucky to be the first from my community to play professional soccer. I can remember when I was first drafted to play for my country’s Under 17 team, there were about 600 players and only 30 would be selected. The best were selected and the rest were left out. I played for my nation’s national Under- 17 and Under- 20 teams until I had the chance to play in the MLS.”

Mansally’s desire to aid his community carries deep roots and is symbolised to him by a mango. While trying out for his nation’s U-17 national team, Mansally hid from his competitors while eating a mango he had picked from near his house.

Accustomed to sharing meals with his mother and five brothers, this was a special treat.

While others at the tryout could readily buy food or new training equipment, Mansally didn’t have that luxury. He didn’t want his family to see him eating it, since they couldn’t share in that nourishment and he didn’t want his poverty to be viewed as a weakness by the other trialists or the coaches, so he hid.

When he earned a spot on that U-17 squad, the mango became a symbol to him and he never forgot the hunger he had in that moment and the satisfaction he felt when it helped him reach his goals.

Now, through his foundation, Mansally can serve metaphorically as that mango that helped him in a time of need. By helping children of The Gambia have access to food, medical care and education, he opens up the possibilities to a brighter future like the one he has enjoyed in his eight seasons in MLS.

In addition to donations through the foundation’s website, Mansally is also raising money by holding soccer clinics.

He was given the Humanitarian of the Year Award by Real Salt Lake in the team’s annual season-ending award winners, which were based on voting by the club’s players.

He is the eleventh player in the club’s history to scoop such an award which was inaugurated in 2005.

Through the Foundation, money and awareness are raised to help children of The Gambia have access to food, to medical care, to an education and to a brighter future.

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