By: Baboucarr Fallaboweh
It’s neither the money meant for sports is not coming forth nor those in charge are embezzling the resources. Known for its athletics & sports dominance in Zone II, the Gambia has failed to register any meaningful success largely due to fewer structured programs supporting the sport.
The emergence of Gina Bass, Sainey Jawo, and The Gambia U20 shows that the talent and passion are there but the government through its Ministry of sports and elite associations is killing sports.
Athletes and teams do travel without their team managers and coaches whilst those mounting the elite association are seen driving fancy cars, flying to New York & London. When the government fails to support its agenda, the corporate or the private sector will lack motivation. We must graduate from that three-sentence congratulatory message, and see that our athletics have the resources and support which beach volleyball and many others lack.
Senegal has taken their wrestling to a multi-million business level though we started well before them.
Gambian duo Sainey Jawo and Mbye Babou Jarra are set to open FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Foro Italico in Rome.
Due to a lack of adequate sponsors and support from the government, the beach Volley team will use this tournament to build up for the commonwealth games.
The duo ranked second in Africa has seen their global ranking fall from 45th to 132nd respectively due to lack of participation in FIVB world tours and the country has been replaced by Mozambique as Africa’s number One since missing four world tours in 2022.
’’It will help push in preparation and we will see our level towards the commonwealth. The world championship will be tougher than that of the Commonwealth games because it’s only for the top teams in the world. It will be our first appearance in the world competition, the rest are more exposed than us, they loaded with playing times,’’ emphasized Sainey Jawo.
In one of their best seasons since their move to Qatar in 2016, the duo won the League, Qatar cup, and came as runners-up in the Prince cup. They will now face Brazil, Italy, and Argentina in pool A in Rome.
A trophy landing cabinet with two Bronze Medals, three Silver and seven gold medals in club level whilst for the Gambia Sainey and Mbye has three Gold and one bronze medal. The duo is not short of inspiration, the team Jawo emerged from used to produce up to eight players on the national team beach volleyball team.
’’ Our success has motivated the boys a lot before nobody goes to the beach to play volleyball including myself. Before, everyone says beach volleyball is hard but now when the players don’t have a league game over the weekend they used to be on the beach. Serekunda East is well motivated because they have seen my success, that’s why if you work hard, you will achieve success easily.” He stressed.
After the summer 2022 world tour which is their fourth appearance (Iran World Tour, Rwanda World Tour & Turkey World Tour)apart from the ones held in Qatar, the Gambian team will gear up for the commonwealth games in Birmingham 2022 where they will lock horns with Sri Lanka, Canada, St . Kitts & Nevis.
’’To be at the top you have to play more world tours. The more you play world tours the more points your gather. whilst the Gambia concentration is about the All-Africa games, Olympics & commonwealth,” echoed captain Jawo
’’We will be prepared mentally and physically, the rest depends on how the government, the federation, and the Olympic committee prepare us.’’
Jawo as the Gambian skipper will lead the country as the Gambia sends its first athletes to the Commonwealth games history.
Despite being beaten by Morocco in the Olympics qualifier golden match, the Gambia Male Beach Volleyball team has become a beacon of hope when sports is mentioned in the country but half-hearted support from the government has left one of the best teams the Gambia has ever produced losing its cohesion.
’’Football is the number one sport in the World and we have accepted. The only time journalists talk about Beach volleyball is when we have achievements, that’s the only time they speak about us or push us. That is even done by a few journalists. What Volleyball achieved, I don’t think any sporting discipline has achieved that in The Gambia. In the Gambia, the government supports football more than other sports. We have a struggling federation, that’s why our expectations and demands are less.”
” We are playing to represent and raised our country level in Volleyball.” He added.
The president of the Gambia Beach Volleyball federation Bai Dodou Jallow on the other hand lamented that finance is their major problem.
“To maintain the team and its position is just participation, traveling, and getting the necessary funds for the world tours which should be continuous. The Ministry of Youth and Sports does not have that money. GNOC do support us but only activities linked to the game like the Commonwealth games.” Jallow claimed.
We need a private sponsor that will accompany the boys, buy air tickets, and others. Sometimes, it’s difficult to have support from the government to be able to maintain the team throughout. The boy’s standards are good, their performance is excellent. We are just trying to push at our level. The problem is sponsorship (money) resources for preparation and traveling. We need that to compete in the world and be on top”. He added.
Jawo and Jarra national recorded
Gold in the 2019 All African Games, Gold again in the 2020 Zone II Olympic Qualification, Bronze in the 2021 Continental Olympic qualification, and the Gold 2022 Continental commonwealth games qualification.