BK West Gambia, Vice Champions of the 2023 Laola Cup


By: Bubacarr Fallaboweh

The inspiring story of BK West United, representing Team Gambia, will dominate football discourse this summer as the brilliant lads made a remarkable mark in the prestigious 2023 Laola Cup in Hamburg, Germany.

From humble beginnings in Bakoteh, Sanchaba, and Kafuta Jarisu to competing on the global stage, the team’s journey reflects the transformative power of football in empowering young minds and fostering leadership.

In a series of gripping matches, BK West triumphed over formidable opponents such as Germany, Iceland, and Canada, earning a well-deserved spot in the final.

Though the title narrowly eluded them, the team’s resilience and sportsmanship shone brightly, exemplified by their courageous performance in the finals shootout.

The Laola International soccer festival provides young talents with invaluable exposure and affords them leadership training, fostering holistic growth during their stay.

The experience bolstered the players’ confidence, imbuing them with the belief that hard work can pave the way to success against the biggest challenge and opponents on the pitch worldwide.

Before the tournament, BK West graciously hosted and played against the under-15 teams of Eintracht Frankfurt and FSV Frankfurt in friendly matches, displaying their prowess and commitment to the sport. Their dedication to nurturing local talent was further evident through their affiliate partner, Jarisu Talents, founded by Alieu Sowe, a board member of BK West.

Alieu Sowe Alias Badara Pullo founded Jarisu Talents, a grassroots football Academy in Simi Urban settlement of Kafuta.

The driving force behind BK West’s initiatives is Cherno Barry, the organization’s coordinator, who firmly believes that sports, particularly football, is a powerful tool to empower youth with essential life skills and create opportunities for a brighter future.

Cherno Barry Coordinator of BK West Project.

Based in Bakoteh, the academy was established to hone footballing skills and instill leadership qualities in young boys and girls, guiding them toward becoming responsible community leaders.

During the Laola Cup, BK West showcased their prowess in Group C, emerging as the group leaders with an impressive nine points and ten goals scored while maintaining a clean sheet. Their journey to the finals was filled with thrilling moments, captivating fans with their talent and dedication.

Beyond the pitch, the BK West Project took a holistic approach, incorporating off-the-pitch learning activities in leadership coaching, mentorship, and discussions to discourage harmful vices like smoking, irregular migration, and teenage pregnancy. Environmental conservation and public speaking were also integral to the players’ training, enriching their development as well-rounded individuals.

Looking ahead, BK West envisions building a sports complex in The Gambia, providing children with a safe and nurturing environment to cultivate life skills that will empower them to impact their communities and surroundings positively.

The profound impact of football in transforming lives was highlighted by Modou Lamin Barry, the Vice President of BK West Gambia, who emphasized how the sport offers stability and shapes the mindset of the youth, steering them away from the perils of the streets.

Modou Lamin Barry, the Vice President of BK West Gambia

Excitingly, BK West has ambitious plans for the 2024 Laola Cup as they gear up to participate with three teams, including a female team, underscoring their commitment to gender inclusivity in sports.

BK West United’s journey from local fields to the international arena is a testament to the transformative power of football and its ability to inspire dreams, hopes, and a brighter future for the youth of The Gambia. Their unwavering dedication to talent development and community upliftment sets an inspiring example for football enthusiasts and philanthropists.


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