The Minister of Youth and Sports Bakary Badjie has disclosed that despite the challenges of infrastructure, Gambia national teams have done tremendously well and recorded unprecedented achievements in the recent past.
Speaking on Star FM Radio’s World Sports Have Your Say, Mr Badjie cited the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon where The Gambia, qualifying for the first time, reached the quarter finals. ”This is a great achievement by all standards and coupled with the Under- 20 winning the Wafu championship and the overall improvement in Gambia’s global ranking, resulted in high respectability to Gambian football,” said Mr Badjie. The minister also added that though the country may still not reach the status of bigger nations, her overall representation in global football has improved a lot.
On the challenges of infrastructure Mr Badjie said government is committed to renovating the Independence Stadium holistically not just to meet the standard of Caf or Fifa but to prolong its durability. ”The Government has already done an assessment and the hope is that once the GPPA assess the tendering and bidding processes the contract would be awarded and work starts immediately. It is hoped that significant work could be done to allow our next Afcon matches in September to be played here but the entire work could span up to December,” he said. The minster said the Independence Stadium has not had any major rehabilitation since its construction in 1983 both under the Jawara and the Jammeh regimes.
”So the current government inherited the problem but since we are the ones in office now this government has taken the responsibility to work on the Stadium,” he said.
On his ministry’s position on allegations of corruption at the Gambia Football Federation who are facing elections next month, Mr Badjie who does not want to be dragged into taking positions, explained that unlike members of the public who can draw their own conclusions government must have tangible evidence to be able to make any judgment. “Besides the Fifa funds are mostly between the GFF, Fifa and the stakeholders here. We as a ministry has no influence or oversight as to how the monies are spent and even though they share their financial reports with us, it is very much between them and their stakeholders. Of course as a government we make sure that any money we give to football is properly accounted for,” Mr Badjie said. He also noted that Fifa funds follow strict procedures and thorough auditing before funds are committed and as far as he knows the GFF has been auditing their accounts according to Fifa guidelines and satisfaction.” So as a ministry we would not know about any allegations and cannot act on speculation. In any case Fifa does not welcome interference by government in football. But again, even if that should happen it will have to be based on proven evidence that the GFF or any other sports association involved has done something against the country’s sports,” he noted.