By John Mendy While other comparable nations continue to apprehend its visions in sport, for fans in Gambia—sports is an exercise in despair. It’s far-fetched a veiled top-secret that our beloved ‘smiling Coast’ continues to soak punches well underneath its load once sports is there to raise the bar for the bountiful buzzing field of endowed athletes. While players remain in offering sacrifice with their personal fortunes to grow in the business, administrators tasked with developing these games focus on personal gain as talents are compelled hard on the ground. Yet, they’re having their desiring tongues alluding to ‘lack of support’ and turtlenecks ‘craving on signing pointless deals to performers’ growth as soon as they start to show promise. The effect here is that every good sportsperson knows that his or her value is to the outside world and not just limited to national teams. Hopes have always sky-rocketed whenever a major competition is called upon us but ‘why are we invariably underachieving?’ High poverty levels aren’t a sufficient reason either but high level of mismanagement it has to said, seeing as other countries with low levels of per-capita income, such as Guinea Bissau who are playing their first ever Nations Cup in Gabon, Kenya and Jamaica, consistently fare better. Just as the question begs, this has always sparked debate on the likely reasons; with administrators flying around the world while players stay stuck on their stunted potentials. Football especially has relentlessly added more salt to our unhealed sores. Just last month’s Annual General Meeting of the Gambia Football Federation could state out the perfect growing sample when the financial department reported a total expenditure amounting to D17 million, spent in the areas of air tickets, allowances, computers, with D7M part of that amount lavishly expended on 41 of its staff salary. Is the money spent in mystery? This recent report on the benefits and pitfalls of big soccer spending by the Federation was questioned. However, whether this was really such a bad thing, if they had make governments expedite the spending of public funds efficiently and advance much-needed infrastructural projects and other important social services, surely they will act as catalysts for economic and social development. The report appeared even to excuse corruption to some extent. It may even be tolerable to overlook conflict of interest situations and isolated instances of corruption to ensure the public have access to enhanced infrastructure and the country to an enhanced international image. Who are these immaculate gentlemen seated in those offices in the name of volunteering to serve the ordinary people? This is a bitter pill to get swallowing! Funds generated are indeed for young players/athletes going haywire. This is certainly one of the worst aspects of the mismanagement in Gambian sport; the misuse of funds meant for the development of new talents. It is heartbroken to know that the dream of many young Gambian children normally ended in dismay. Yes, we see them all over the country, practicing in dusty streets with plastic balls made from discarded maize meal packages or to the slightly privileged better rubber balls, spikes, and so on, shouting ‘Messi or Cristiano’, Bolt or Gatlin, etc. Yet it’s hard to really point out gain or what the authorities are doing to sustain any of their projects implemented for these young ones since they are the future. One of the challenging responsibilities of sports administration or management is helping individuals or an athlete advance to the limits of their potential in diverse arenas—including sports—is the development strategy of the future and not false plans that keeps dragging our sport down the wire, thus underperforming invariably. Indeed, education tends to be the highest priority for the average Gambian household instead of extra-curricular activities but it’s rather sad that, the pool of talent created at the local community, school and university levels, leaves much to be desired both in terms of size and quality. And monies pumped by international affiliates to better run the affairs of these sport, aren’t wisely used to help school some of our highly praised athletes. Where are we heading to with our sport today? Poor infrastructures, is something that needs not a mention because its crystal clear to everyone to gaze at, shake his/her head and then turn back in absolute distress and disgrace. We may be aware that annually or to some quarterly specific money or donation is sent to associations concern in order to enhance the sport they are involved but often don’t these funds reach the target groups or for sometimes ending in haywire. Never will the concern perpetrators be questioned. It’s high time we earn honesty that the nation boasts immense human diversity, with limbs and muscles of all sizes, so race or genetic characteristics aren’t a valid explanation. The public knows they’re in love when they can’t fall asleep because the reality is finally better than your dreams. Gambia needs to invest in the long term, not expecting miracles at the touch of a button while greedily seating in offices you hold.]]>
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By Omar Bah Veteran politician and former minister in both the Jawara and Barrow governments Omar Jallow (OJ), has advised the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations...
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