Banjul United basketball team returns to Elite League

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Banjul United Basketball team under the stewardship of Ndongo Camara, has returned to the top division after only spending one season in League Two.

Coach Sheriff Jagne’s boys were unbeaten before unfortunately losing to Letitfly 51-59 on the last day of the season.

Hoopers president Ndongo Camara and key player Malick Manga spoke to the Alkamba Times desk following their promotion.

*We are thrilled to return to the Elite League. Banjul has always been at the forefront of Gambia’s sports, especially basketball; however, that status has declined lately. The Banjul basketball team has always been represented by established and national team players. We were lucky that we have a council of elders within the sports fraternity that saw the need for a revival of basketball in the capital. They groomed and trained us until we were able to stand on our feet once more. We are grateful and calling on more to join hands.” Manga told Alkamba Times

“When we went down in the second division, we learned our lesson and tested our character. We rectified the mistakes we made in the first division and improved ourselves. Banjul United is a learning process right now, and a lot of grass-roots projects have been put into place. We will only get better.”

On his part, club president Ndongo Camara called for support from all sectors and urged the government to invest in sports.

“I congratulate the players, the head coach, and the entire management for a job well done; it was not easy. It was very hectic, but at the end of the day, we realised our objectives. The players got relaxed a bit, lacked commitment, and were not serious, and they went on to believe that the team was invincible and that they would maintain their status in the first division. That’s how we got to the second division, but I am happy to return to the first division.”

 “As the president, I’m the only one funding the team. As far as this is my responsibility, I have to step up and make sure all that I have I put in the team to make sure the team is comfortable financially. It’s difficult, and it wasn’t easy. I wrote to so many entities to forge partnership, and we were ready to give them publicity for the whole season. We ended up only getting promises and promises. This county does not take sports seriously, especially our authorities. I think they don’t understand the value of sports; even the central government; you don’t see any sports-oriented personnel even in the cabinet. That’s why our sports are lacking behind, and sports can change the majority of the lives of ordinary Gambian people, but they don’t have the understanding and they are not sports-oriented personnel’s. This is my view.”

On the sports levy, Camara hinted that it should be made available to all the sporting disciplines.

“The sports levy is a levy collected by the government, and I think the levy should go to the sports associations by supporting and subventing clubs, just like FIFA and CAF help their member associations. The Gambia Basketball Association itself is struggling.

Basketball in Banjul is blooming once again. For the first time, there is a junior basketball academy in Banjul with different categories and lots of kids in those academies. In the last two editions of the inter-region academy competition, Banjul has won it. We have plans to get to the school’s next season.”

“Another constraint that we are having is that the facilities of the schools are deteriorating. To engage and involve these kids in basketball, we must have these facilities rehabilitated. There is already a program with the schools. We want to bring back the schoolboy international during the days of Father Gough, when the schools were producing lots of players.

The All-Star’s game will be held in Banjul; it’s an opportunity to revamp basketball in Banjul. Mr. Camara hopes the council will take ownership and furnish the Manneh Sillah memorial court.

Westside, Serekunda West beat rivals SK East to finish the regular season as champions for 2023-2024, going the whole campaign without a defeat.

Manga will be rubbing shoulders with Serekunda West, YMCA. It was one of the best games against Letitfly because both teams played a magnificent game. The defeat motivated us a lot; we have to train harder now.”

Manga also stressed that the target of his team now is to win the first division following their promotion.

“The next phase of our development will be how to play at the at the first division level and try hard to win the championship,” he added.

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Baboucarr Fallaboweh
Baboucarr Fallaboweh Sports Editor (Buba Jallow Fallaboweh) is a Gambian football expert, football analyst & columnist. The Stockholm-based Journalist is a media officer, football Scout, PR, Influencer and Digital creator. I started my journalism career as a football analyst in 2012 with Vibes FM and went on to work with CityLimit, West Coast, Hot FM, Freedom Radio, Eye Africa and Afri Radio as a content producer and presenter. In 2013, I attended Football Daily on the BBC SPORTS where we discussed the different styles of Football played in Africa. I Went on to freelance for The Point Newspaper, Freedom Newspaper, Daily Observer and Standard Newspaper before being appointed as Sports Editor with the Alkamba Times in March 2022.  I have worked for Magazines like Glo Magazine and Foot54 covering Gambian football and African Football.   Between 2020 -2021 I worked as a scout for the Gambia Football Federation, scouting talents for the U17 &U20.  From 2017 to 2021, I served as Media officer for GFF First division teams Team Rhino and Marimoo and also as media Officer of Banjul FC, fourth Division tier in Sweden and Darboe’s FC (Female second division club in the Gambia). I served as a PR for Superstars Academy.   With Afrencon, I was a data analyst before I joined LightHouse as a head scout for the Gambia project. In organizational structures, I served as the ambassador of the John Bass Kidney Foundation and one of the founders of the foundation creating kidney awareness in the Gambia.   I also served two positions in the Gambian organization in Sweden, as Sports chairman and the secretary of the associations.   After 12 years of being a football journalist, I was named 3rd best sports column writer in Africa year 2021 by the reputable sports media organization AIPS. I finished in the top 35 in the world with my article titled Back way: Gambian footballers in deadly Voyage to Europe.   With over 500 articles and interviews, analysis, profiling, features and news, I was shortlisted for the Gambia Press Union National Journalist Award 2022. I submitted the article which was co-written alongside Momodou Bah From Living Through Despair to Being An Agent Of Hope, The Inspiring Story Of John Bass.   I have served as an advisers to Football academies, clubs, and players and others. I have hosted dozens of shows and was invited as a guest on both radio, TV and the online press. I also covered the Gambia's maiden AFCON debut in 2021 in Cameroon.  

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