The Gambia loses Fatoumata Sillah to Slovenia

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by Baboucarr Fallaboweh

Gambian Youth Volleyball player Fatoumata Sillah has switched nationality from the Gambia to Slovenia, the International Volleyball Association announced on Thursday.

The 21 year old who plays for Vasas Óbuda BUDAPEST will be available for the Slovenian national team on 12th June 2025. The native of Brikama and product of Brikama Volleyball moved to Slovenia when she was 16 years and represented the Gambia in the youth beach volleyball.

The president of the Slovenian Volleyball Association Metod Ropret said they are not happy as the player cannot feature immediately after the change of nationality.

“We are disappointed that they have moved Fatoumata’s availability  for the national team to 2025 but we are considering her age and won’t missed a lot.  We will provide her everything humanly possible to prepare and make her ready for the future task.” Ropret stressed

Sillah on her part said she is grateful that the Slovenian association followed the case for two years and at the same time she is hurt that she cannot play for the national team but admit that she is following the national team.

Such allegiance is becoming popular within the Gambian sports community, just last week Christiano Mendy switched to Guinea Bissau after representing the Gambia in athletics at the junior level. Previously, it was much associated with footballers, but now other sports domain is following suit. Just like Mbye Jarra, Sillah’s absence will hurt the growth of the game, but she cannot be blamed.

For continuous two months, the Gambia has been grieving after losing  sons and daughters to the Mediterranean Sea with the West coast region having the highest casualties, Jambur lost 41 Youths who departed on October 14th, and 27 Youths from Kombo Kartong died on their backway journey on the 14th October journey.  21 young Gambians sadly lost their lives while on their journey to Spain in Bakau. 214 young people reportedly just perished at sea between Senegal and Mauritania from Gambia. There are no promising things that they perhaps see they can be able to achieve in Gambia.

The national league don’t have sponsors, national athletes are not very motivated. Why did the Gambia lose one of the youngest Gambians to play in the Gambian national volleyball team?

There are lots of factors as to why players want to naturalize for other countries. It’s for greener pasture and financial gains. Because you cannot play or represent your country, even the allowances they give you cannot sustain you. Going to school as a promising athlete and there is no scholarship available for your studies and we all know athletics need to focus on education too.

If there is no scholarship at the end of the day you either become weak in school or leave the sport. All these are challenges in the country. The talent is there, if somebody has the talent and doesn’t have the required support needed the people who have seen the potential and who have power will invest in him or her. Which is not the reverse in the country.

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Baboucarr Fallaboweh Sports Editor (Buba Jallow Fallaboweh) is a Gambian football expert, football analyst & columnist. The Stockholm-based Journalist is a media officer, football Scout, PR, Influencer and Digital creator. I started my journalism career as a football analyst in 2012 with Vibes FM and went on to work with CityLimit, West Coast, Hot FM, Freedom Radio, Eye Africa and Afri Radio as a content producer and presenter. In 2013, I attended Football Daily on the BBC SPORTS where we discussed the different styles of Football played in Africa. I Went on to freelance for The Point Newspaper, Freedom Newspaper, Daily Observer and Standard Newspaper before being appointed as Sports Editor with the Alkamba Times in March 2022.  I have worked for Magazines like Glo Magazine and Foot54 covering Gambian football and African Football.   Between 2020 -2021 I worked as a scout for the Gambia Football Federation, scouting talents for the U17 &U20.  From 2017 to 2021, I served as Media officer for GFF First division teams Team Rhino and Marimoo and also as media Officer of Banjul FC, fourth Division tier in Sweden and Darboe’s FC (Female second division club in the Gambia). I served as a PR for Superstars Academy.   With Afrencon, I was a data analyst before I joined LightHouse as a head scout for the Gambia project. In organizational structures, I served as the ambassador of the John Bass Kidney Foundation and one of the founders of the foundation creating kidney awareness in the Gambia.   I also served two positions in the Gambian organization in Sweden, as Sports chairman and the secretary of the associations.   After 12 years of being a football journalist, I was named 3rd best sports column writer in Africa year 2021 by the reputable sports media organization AIPS. I finished in the top 35 in the world with my article titled Back way: Gambian footballers in deadly Voyage to Europe.   With over 500 articles and interviews, analysis, profiling, features and news, I was shortlisted for the Gambia Press Union National Journalist Award 2022. I submitted the article which was co-written alongside Momodou Bah From Living Through Despair to Being An Agent Of Hope, The Inspiring Story Of John Bass.   I have served as an advisers to Football academies, clubs, and players and others. I have hosted dozens of shows and was invited as a guest on both radio, TV and the online press. I also covered the Gambia's maiden AFCON debut in 2021 in Cameroon.  

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