By: Alieu Ceesay
In a ceremonial event at the State House in Banjul, Vice President Momodou Jallow handed over the national flag to the Gambia national senior football team, the Scorpions, marking their second qualification for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Lamin Kaba Bajo, the President of the Gambia Football Federation, seized the occasion to call upon the government to invest more in sports for the country’s overall improvement. He emphasized the need for a thorough review of the national sports policy, stating, “I will once again advocate for the government to revisit the existing policy and laws to prioritize sports as a productive sector.”
Football in the Gambia, like other sports, confronts numerous challenges for development, including insufficient infrastructure and inadequate financial incentives.
Minister for Youths and Sports Bakary Badjie revealed that the Minister of Finance has approved a budget of D150 million. He explained that while the initial budget was D171 million, the funds would cover various aspects, including match bonuses for players.
Minister Badjie assured, “The government has allocated D170 million for AFCON, and the finance minister has already disbursed D150 million. The remaining balance will be provided as we progress, addressing the bill from the National Organizing Committee of D388 million.”
Additionally, Minister Badjie announced that President Adama Barrow has approved issuing Diplomatic Passports to all players.
Despite being categorized as underdogs, Captain Omar Colley reassured fans of victory, expressing, “This time around, we will do more to advance from the quarterfinals to the semifinals with your continued support.”
The Gambia, having debuted AFCON in 2022 and reached the round of sixteen, now harbors a dream of securing the coveted title on home soil.