By Lamin Fadera
Moments after the Gambia Football Federation announced the laying of new artificial turf at the Box bar mini stadium, pictures of the alluring groundwork of the community playing ground went viral as Dals Batiment el Service and Newman international laid the green synthetic artificial turf at Box Bar.
Football fans in one of the most densely populated cities in the Gambia welcomed the news with immense glee amid a fresh sense of revival, rekindling the famous Box bar stadium where the absence of a standard turf saw the community unable to play its annual nawettan football tournament. The anxiety of a lost season for football-loving fans now disappears, replaced by a new glimmer of hope for a much-loved game.
Excitement over the artificial turf is beyond imagination with fans visiting the ground immediately after hearing news of the project to get firsthand information with many turning on their phones to take pictures of the new artificial turf and flaunt them on social media.
The development finally brings relief to the committee who were desperately waiting for this moment.
President Victor Sambou Reacts
Brikama Sports Committee President, Victor Sambou expressed delight after witnessing the laying of the artificial turf at the box bar mini stadium, saying it’s better late than never whilst commending the GFF for delivering the turf in Brikama.
“This is long overdue but it is better to be late than never and we deeply commend the GFF for that. Though we also have our share of the cake and understand the feeling of not doing it in time this is a dream come true and we are saying thank you to the football body.”
“We are excited that football is coming back to Box Bar again and we want to see the fans come back and enjoy the ambiance. Brikama cannot sit for two years without playing nawettan” Sambou said.
Last year, Brikama’s Nawettan season was played at the SSP multi-sports center.
Despite the laying of the artificial turf, Victor Sambou raised concerns about the turf, which was laid without clearing the ground.
Some stone particles and ditch are on the ground and he said it would have been great to remove them before laying the turf.
“I think the ground should have been cleared before laying the turf but when I asked the contractor he told me that’s not a problem. All that they are telling me is everything is fine and the sand won’t affect the process after it’s laid’’ Sambou told TAT.
On the durability of the artificial turf, Mr. Sambou said he was told the ground will last for 6 to 7 years, adding that the remaining artificial turf should be spread on areas within the edges to cover the entire stadium to avoid players getting injuries on the concrete floor.
Journalist Ebrima KB Sonko, a resident of Brikama said he is eager to watch football again at the famous Box Bar mini stadium.
Sonko said initially he wasn’t sure that the Gambia Football Federation was going to lay the turf anytime soon after failing to meet different deadlines on the completion of the field.
‘I finally believe it is going to happen. After missing several deadlines I wasn’t quite optimistic. But when I went on a site visit and saw the turf being spread and ready for installation, I was really happy’’ Said Sonko.
The new turf at the mini-stadium finally ready for use will afford a chance for Sonko and others to reunite with some old friends at the exciting Mini Stadium, where he got his break in journalism as a young reporter.
“For me, Box Bar is everything. It was the place I found a job and have great memories and fun here with friends. So nothing makes me happier than seeing the construction nearing completion’’ Ebrima KB Sonko said.
The current renovation work by the Gambia Football Federation at Box Bar was facilitated via funds received from the world governing body FIFA.
The FIFA forward 2.0 is a grant given to 2011 member associations for the development of football in their respective countries. Each member received six million dollars (6,000, 000) for 4 years.