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City of Banjul
Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Opinion: Mr President, how about our U-20, Sportsmen/women

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By Sang Wisdom Mendy

Mr President, ever since you were voted into power, most of us in sports felt our sports would progress to another stage because you told us that you are a fan of football and wrestling.
You said this in many interviews. The picture here is also another indication that you are a committed football lover because only a committed sportsman/woman supports Arsenal FC.
That said Mr President, sports need your personal and government intervention. We are aware that the annual budget allocation for both youth and sports is D68million.

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This you know cannot even finance the Gambia Football Federation national teams’ activities, considering the number of competitions they register in. The cost of air fares, hotel bills, allowances and salaries etc all added. Consider also that wrestling, basketball, volleyball, athletics and all other sports are also expected to be funded from that same D68million; not to talk about the over 30 youth organizations interested in implementing youth led activities at least three times annually. How on earth can this sum of money take both youth and sports forward?
I write because three four days ago, the Liberian President George Manneh Weah gave the Young Scorpions $10,000 when they qualified to the final of the West African Football Union.

He did that to show appreciation to the team and he is not even a Gambian but one who is interested but he donated that amount to inspire the young footballers.
Who knows how much he gave to the Liberian team who made it to the final just months after he became president?
The Young Scorpions defeated Liberia 2-1 to be crowned champions of WAFU, a feat The Gambia hasn’t achieved in many years. Logically, we would assume that the government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports would by now issue a statement congratulating the team. This should naturally come with pledges to give financial or material support to all members of the team. This still isn’t the case.

Or is WAFU considered an insignificant tournament?
Whatever it is, we must provide our athletes with both moral and financial support to be able to demand a lot more from them.
Motivation is key in every profession. The young men and women who choose sports as their profession cannot be overlooked when it comes to motivation. They are as important as the military and the police who go on peace keeping.

So Mr President emulate other African leaders by giving to the U-20.
At this moment the only financial support announced was when the GFF said they are giving D268, 000 to the team. This announcement was made a day before the final. Who knows, maybe this was what encouraged the players to put up a fierce fight to win the trophy. Maybe the GFF should increase the amount to D500, 000.

The Lamin Kabba Bajo led federation at least has something to show off and can even have more if supported but that’s if they maintain this team to progress to another level. This team has been a delight to watch as is always the case with our youth teams including the females.
Where is government, the presidency and business tycoons’ support to the team for their glorious achievement?

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