Gambians across all domains in the sports fraternity represented the country well in international stages and competitions despite challenging factors, limited resources and motivation. The Alkamba Times celebrates their wins and triumphs, as we roll back the year 2023 in retrospect.
Two prominent referees retired namely Maudo Jallow and Bakary Gassama. Maudo officiated his final game at the beginning of the year, when Hawks beat Wallidan 2-0 in the Super Cup. While the latter called it a day on the 21st of December 2023, Gassama’s career as a FIFA referee spans a period of 16 years, during which he officiated three World Cup tournaments, the U20 World Cup, the Club World Cup, the AFCON, the CAF Champions League, and the Confederation Cup final in 2017.
A brace from Ola Buwaro and Kaddy Jarju’s debut goal handed the Queen scorpions a bronze medal in the WAFU Zone A women’s championship in Cape Verde.
ScanAid represented the Gambia and WAFU A at the inaugural edition of the CAF Pan African U-15 Schools Football Tournament and ended up winning a bronze medal after a 4-3 penalty shootout against SCG De Mfilou. Winning a prize of $150,000.
Real De Banjul beat the Falcons to the league title. Real, who haven’t won the league title since 2014, finished on the same points as the Falcons but were adjudged winners due to their superior goal difference for the 13th time.
The Gambia U20 reached the round of 16 in the U20 world cup in Argentina, eventually knocked out by Uruguay. The Gambia topped Group F, winning two of their three games. They played a goalless draw in the final match of the group stage to finish as one of the six teams to go unbeaten in the group stage of the competition. In Egypt AFCON U20, The Gambia won a silver medal after losing to Senegal in the finals, as they beat Nigeria in the semifinals and handed France a 2-1 shock in Argentina.
Gambian youth attended two international festivals in Germany (the Laola Cup) and Norway (the Norway Cup). In Hamburg, 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.
The Norway Cup is a football tournament for children and youngsters aged 10 to 19. The Tijan Jaiteh/Aziz Corr lead charges went unbeaten before winning the final 3-2 against Ullern.
The Scorpions qualified for their second Nations Cup in September 2023 after surviving earthquake scares in Marrakesh. Gambia (needed a point) vs. Congo (needed a win). Congo were 2-0 up and on their way to AFCON qualification, but in the 79th minute, Gambia made it 2-1 via Yankuba Minteh. 90th minute: Gambia equalised via Mohmmed Badamoesi.
The summer transfer saw more than 70 players move, including high-profile players like Yankuba Minteh, Adama Bojang, and Musa Barrow. Adama went on to make his much-awaited Ligue 1 debut on November 26 against Rennes. This will be regarded as one of the best transfer windows in Gambian football history.
The football year was wrapped up with an incredible history as both Ebrima Colley and Yankuba Minteh scored their first Champions League goals.
Gambian fans, foreign-based Player of the Year 2023. Yankuba Minteh
Minteh has had an exceptional first full year as a professional footballer. The Gambian wonder kid has seen a rapid rise to stardom in the world of elite football, and it’s scary to know that Minteh turned… pic.twitter.com/bFU8tk6enn
— Buba Jallow Fallaboweh (@soccercafe1) December 31, 2023
The Gambia U21 men’s beach volleyball team beat Mozambique 2-0 to win the CAVB U21 beach volleyball nations championship in Morocco. While the female team secured the bronze and a spot in the World Championship in Thailand.
Gambia Police Forces Volleyball Club won everything staged this season, including coaches of the year awards.
After missing out on the award in 2019, Jawo and Mbye Jarra were named Sports Journalists’ Association of The Gambia’s best foreign-based player of the year and athlete of the year in the 12th edition.
GAMTEL/GAMCEL became the champions of the men’s and women’s National Beach Volleyball Championship. Runners up are Olymp Africa of Serekunda East, with the Gambia Armed Forces bagging the third-place medal.
Sainey Jawo and Pa Ali Njie won the Zone II Beach Volleyball championship in Guinea-Bissau. The duo, in their quest for their first Olympic qualification& defending their title, lost in their final set 8-15, leading to a narrow defeat in the overall match against Senegal; however, they qualified for the Continental tournament.
Gambia took 4th place out of 13 countries in the sub-region, losing in the semifinals to eventual winner Niger. In other categories, the gallant wrestlers also won a trophy and gold in the 100kg and silver in the 66kg.
Gambian international wrestler Babacarr Mboge and Gibriel Chow have won bronze in the 70kg and 90kg categories, respectively, in the African Wrestling Championship held in Tunis.
Africa’s fastest woman in 200M Gina Bass won two gold medals in 100 and 200 meters at the international athlete meeting in the Cameroonian city of Douala. She was also awarded as an athlete in competition.
Gina Bass finished first in the women’s 100 m at the Meeting International de Montreuil in France with a timing of 11:03 seconds.
With the new timing, Gina has broken her own personal best (PB) as well as her season best (SB).
Gina Bass set a new national record, qualifying for the Paris Olympics and World Championships.
The Gambian International Athlete Sensation, Gina Bass, has broken the national record she set at 11:06 after competing in the women’s 100 m in Switzerland.
Gina Bass competed in the women’s 100m at the Kip Nomo Continental Tour Gold in Nairobi and finished in 5th place with a season best of 11.09 seconds.
Finland-born Gambian judoka Faye Njie won a gold medal at the Abidjan African Judo Open in 2023. The Open brings together 154 athletes, including 101 men and 53 women from 27 countries.
Njie defeated Bissau Cesar Diogo in a long fight that lasted until the golden score, but Faye eventually won with a beautiful ippon.
The results set Njie in good standing for qualification to the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. The Finland-born Gambian became the first ever Olympic judoka for the Gambia when he competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.