By Lamin Fadera
If you are a football fan, a vendor at the Brikama market, or even a passerby around the Box bar mini stadium in Brikama. No one will tell you the noise and the vibration generated by the home supporters at the once fortress ground for away teams in the 1st Division.
Not to forget the local football jamboree NNaweetan football in the Box Bar, the euphoria of the fans, the love for their respective clubs is unquestionable in Satayba.
Guess what, the Box Ba mini stadium has now turned into a ghost field; hardly will you hear the echoes of the once noisy stadium due to the ongoing GFF field renovation.
Satayba as it is fondly called is located inland south bank where the main urban settlement is and a little over 35 kilometers away from the capital city Banjul. It has a population of around 77,700 inhabitants.
Its youthful population loves sports most especially football, but over the past two seasons, the community has missed watching football in the once fortress grounds for away teams in The Gambia.
One of the negative impacts of the lack of football at the Box Bar mini stadium is the lack of player pool recruitment for the Brikama united team and other sports funded by Victor Sambou led executive.
The Brikama Sports committee heavily depends on revenue from Natwetans and other activities at the Box Bar mini stadium.
The revenue scoop from the gate taken and Naweetan fees and sponsors are used to finance the Brikama united male and the female football team. They also finance the Volleyball and Basketball teams in the community.
With the ongoing field renovation currently underway at the box bar mini stadium, how has work progressed at the community playing ground and what do some people think about the project.
Work is in Progress at Brikama Box Bar Park but not Good Enough, Says Sambou
Despite the Gambia Football Federation’s promise that the field project at Brikama will be finished in February 2022, the president of the Brikama Sports Committee Victor Sambou is the least satisfied with the pace of the field renovation.
According to Mr. Sambou work is in progress compared to six months ago but he is not satisfied with the pace of the ongoing rehabilitation work in Brikama now.
‘last year they told us that the ongoing work at the Box Bar will be finished in October 2021 but still, now the work is not finished, we are now in February 2022 work is ongoing but not good enough.
At least there is some encouragement here because they level the ground, the artificial turf is here and the perimeter iron fence is erected, they also started working on the dressing rooms to expand it.
Every day new story are coming up from GFF and sounds good in the ears and the impression they gave sometimes encourages you, for example, the expand the dressing rooms but practically the work is too slow and below my expectation.
I hope the work will be a quality one and the project will be finished before the upcoming Naweetan season because this is my final year as the President of the Brikama Sports committee and I will like to watch some matches before my term expires,’’ Sambou said.
The lack of playing Naweetan football has strangled the Brikama sports committee at the scuff of the neck as the committee struggles to finance the Brikama United football clubs both male and female last season.
According to president Sambou, they do spend millions of dalasi on the Brikama united football club every year. He said those monies are collected through the revenue generated during Naweetan matches.
Lack of playing the famous local football fiesta has affected the community who dip into their coffers to finance the just concluded Naweetan that took place at the SSP playing ground.
‘Brikama we normally generated around 1.2 million dalasis per Naweetan which we normally plow back to the teams. That is the male and the female team in the first division but this year we have lost everything, so you can see what the challenges are not playing Naweetan. And the reason we went to play Naweetan at SSP is that we don’t want Brikama to go for two consecutive seasons without playing Naweetan that will be a big blow to the community of Brikama.
“Disappointments are The Side of the GFF” Dembajang
After missing five deadlines, the first vice president of the Brikama Sports Committee Lamin Dembajang said he felt disappointed that the Gambia Football Federation did not fulfill its promise about the ongoing field rehabilitation at the Box bar.
For two seasons the committee could not hold the Naweetan at Box bar, this has put a burden on the sports committee who sometimes operate at a loss in their last season Naweetan played at the SSP ground.
He said they sometimes do struggle to pay the referees, the security official, and some committee members last Naweetan season.
Financial Implications and Impact
Finance is one of the key fundamental pillars that run football clubs, but over the last two seasons, the Satayba club struggles to pay its players and staff due to a scarcity of funds at the committee level.
The reason has been being the lack of football activities at the mini-stadium hurts the committee and the various club and the sporting discipline according to the first vice president Lamin Dembajang.
He said the committees lost a colossal amount of money over the last two seasons due to a lack of proper Naweetan football. He highlighted that the player pool also has reduced astronomically because of the lack of Naweetan football.
‘in terms of financial loss is colossal, for example, Brikama United football club male and female, Brikama Basketball, Brikama Volleyball male and female are all funded by Brikama Sports Committee and the source of funding 95 percent all comes from the Naweetan and is all generated at box bar, this year we have nothing and we are suffering’’.
Last season Brikama united the male team under the guidance of Modou Lamin Nyassi and finished the season at 8th position with 33 points in 26 matches in Division One. They won 8 matches, drew 9, and lost 9 with 30 goals scored and conceded 31 goals.
One of the biggest hurdles the club encounters at the tail end of last season was some players were not fully committed and even showing up for training.
Mr. Dembajang said the Brikama united male football club budget is around 3 million dalasis.
‘I will give you an example on the Brikama United male team every week they used nothing less than 5,000 dalasis for training fares, feeding for camping. we paid nothing less than 2500 dalasi per game and transport to and from games is nothing less than 2500 dalasi per game. This is a weekly expense not to talk of their monthly allowance because I wouldn’t call it salary. Every month we gave them nothing less than 70,000 dalasis. So if put these figures together, Brikama united male team consume nothing less than 3 million dalasis every season, that’s only Brikama united male football team, the female football team has not come, Basketball team and even the volleyball team male and female so that is a big blow on the side of the Brikama sports committee,’ Dembajang confirms.
Assan Darboe Sign The MOU Between GFF and The Sports Committee
The former interim president of the Brikama sports committee Assan Darboe signed the contract in 2018 for the renovation of the Box bar mini stadium.
Back in 2018, Darboe was reluctant to sign the initial memorandum of understanding between the Gambia Football Federation and the Brikama sports committee because he was not convinced with what the federation presented on the table.
He was reported to the community elders to convince him to sign the current existing MOU between the GFF and the Brikama Sports committee.
According to Assan Darboe, the previous artificial pitch was supposed to serve for 8 to 9 years but it was used for 14 years. He believed the pitch could have served for extra years but since the GFF insisted that they want to start the work in earnest he has no choice but to heed the advice of the elders of the community.
‘it was tough for me at the time when I insisted not to sign the document, some people say I don’t want the town to have development, they label me names but now they come to realize what our fear was in 2018, our fear is still what is happening, that is the contract will not come to its end and still now the pitch is not completed,’ former interim president Darboe said.
Masaikou Bojang, a retired headmaster was the one who gave the kola nut to his namesake and grandfather the later Masaikou Dandan Ba of Sanneh Kunda back in 1969.
He was accompanied by Malang Alagie Bojang MI and others to go and asked for a plot of land to play football, the Box Mini stadium would later become the only field in the whole western Division now West Coast Region.
Masiakou Bojang urges Lamin Kaba Bajo who he called a little brother to try and finished the ongoing field renovation at the Box bar min stadium.