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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

National Sports Council on trial —The untold tory of how NSC is failing sports A commentary By Omar Jarju

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The National Sports Council as the arm of government, under the Ministry of Youth and Sports, is charged with the responsibilities among which is to regulate all National Sports Associations in The Gambia.
For the last past years, serious unsettled disputes have been witnessed as a result of the violation of the NSC ACT 2000 by the Administrative Staff, through interference with the National Sports Associations administrations, covered ups among other things. These unsettled disputes have accumulated, derailing the NSC’s strategic objectives, and creating a culture of a blame game.

History of the NSC
Before the establishment of the National Sports Council in 2000 by an Act of Parliament, The Gambia National Olympic and Sports Committee GNOSC now renamed The Gambia National Olympic Committee GNOC was responsible for the coordination and supervision of all sporting related activities in The Gambia.
In the early 2000’s, the then youth and sports minister Yankuba Touray through discussions and consultations decided that there should be a body responsible for the development of sports in The Gambia. From there, the ministry advertised for consultants to come forward to draft a sport policy, and eventually Sahel Investment Gambia was selected to be the consultant of the first policy which was approved by parliament in 2002.

Then later, an interim sports council was setup by the then youth and sports minister Yankuba Touray to lay the foundation for a National Sports Council.
Chaired by George Gomez, the interim sports council also had Musa Njie as the Vice chairman and Charles Thomas as the Secretary General. This body laid the foundation, set up the structures both administrative and financial for the inauguration of Njie Barrow as the first Chairman of the National Sports Council in 2005.
Back to the present, the NSC currently has a list of about 35 registered National Sports Associations, some of which are dormant. Unfortunately, according to most of these national sports associations, any hope of sports development have been undermined by a track record of systemic failure and incompetent management, the blame for which lies squarely at the door of the Administrative Staff.
Sports should enhance the nation socially and economically, transforming communities and contributing to improved health. This dream has not yet been realized due to the failures of the NSC as the responsible authority.

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The National Sport Policies
Currently, the NSC is concurrently implementing two policy documents, all aimed at directing the strategic goals of mass participation and excellence in Gambian Sports. The National Sports Policy 2010 – 2019 has ten (10) embedded Strategic Objectives most of which are far from being implemented, measured or achieved), whilst the phased-out National Sports Strategy Action Program 2010 – 2014 had nine (9) promising Strategic Objectives, that rolled over some of its objectives into the current one expiring in 2019.
The National Sports Policy and Programme of Action for the period 2010 – 2019 should have being “a logical sequel to the last policy which came to an end in 2008” (National Sports Policy 2010-2019, p. 3). The rationale of the policy was to build on the previous policy, whilst “renewing great emphasis and focus on implementation and commitment to excellence as the guiding principle” (p.4).

The NSC currently has no specialist in policy formulations, research and development or seasoned staff that is able to assess and drive the Key Performance Indicators of those strategic objectives for Gambian Sports. As proof of this was a recommendation for capacity building program recommended by the policy documents. Issues of covering up of disputes in violations of the ACT2000 and piling-up of sports-related cases that should have been forwarded to the Board for action are still some of the main blockage affecting the NSC and development of Gambia Sports. Sport is a dynamic field that requires highly trained and qualified administrators that are informed about handling contemporary related issues. Having personnel of this caliber would have set the foundation for sports excellence and actualizations in The Gambia. Instead, the NSC personnel seem to lack both competence and leadership. This has led to an almost total absence of administrative standards, missed opportunities for national sports development and to support sports with contemporary and scientific practices.

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The current National Sports Policy 2010-2019 and the Sports Development Framework for The Gambia 2015-2020, has great emphasis on good governance practices that national associations should adhere to and enforced by the NSC. Some of which includes the following; holding of periodic general elections, annual general meetings with the following in place, President’s report on policy, Secretary’s activity report…etc. These are international standards, but have never been seriously enforced by the NSC for compliance purposes. An example of this, is the recent out cry of a Para-athlete of Gambia National Paralympic Committee (GNPC), who alleged that the GNPC has never been to AGM, neither get any membership from National Sports Organizations (further readings:

To be continued..The Administrative Staff of the NSC has so far seemed giving deaf ear to these allegations, because many believe that they are protecting the GNPC and its current Board from their poor governance.
According to the 2010-2019 policy; “A comprehensive review of the implementation of the Sports Policy and Action Programme will be conducted biennially, midterm and a final evaluation after five (5) years with a view to revising or redirecting policy indicators and programmes based upon new needs and realities with regards to sports development in the country. Such reviews will be submitted to all stakeholders and discussed at a national forum.” (p. 27) The extract above shows that, the responsibility lies on the Department of Technical and Planning of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

However, it further states “…National Sports Council will be responsible for the day to day coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the sports policy and action programme.” (p. 27)
There are currently no reports or evidence presented to the public or the national sports Associations by the Administrative Staff and NSC Board as periodic monitoring result. This shows that, they have failed to monitor and evaluate the strategic objectives of the policy documents. Proof of that is reflected in the current deprived state of Gambian sports.

However, the next episode will feature some damning revelations against the National Sports Council and their systematic tactics in hijacking the role and responsibility of the NSC board through capitalizing on the inexperience of some of the Board Members, covering up of disputes, interference, intimidations and illegitimate dissolutions of some National Sports Associations amongst others.

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