Jammeh gives plots of land to 22 -Disburses over one million as match bonuses
Friday, April 18, 2008
The Gambia former U-17 and current U-20 team were on Wednesday handsomely rewarded by President Yahya Jammeh for their historic achievements in the world football arena.
The plots of land promised by the benevolent Gambian leader when Darling Scorpions won the 2005 CAF Under -17 Championships in Banjul were made available to twenty-two players at a special dinner held at Kairaba Beach Hotel. The allocated plots are in the Sirlagie layout in Western Region.
The President also handed to the Gambia Football Association, a cheque for D1,120,000 (one million, one hundred and twenty thousand dalasis), in settlement of match bonuses of the National Under 20 team which participated in the CAF Youth Championship finals hosted in Congo in February 2007 and the FIFA Under 20 World Championship held in Canada later in the same year.
Delivering the President's statement at the gathering, Yankuba Touray, secretary of state for Fisheries, Water Resources & National Assembly Matters, said the day marks yet another great moment in the annals of this country's footballing history.
According to SoS Tourayu, President Jammeh did not hide his satisfaction for fulfilling yet another promise he made to the players christened as his sons.
"I cannot tell how satisfied I am to fulfil yet another promise I made to these sons of this nation who have, through football, raised the Gambian flag to higher heights. This young Scorpions, most of whom are now playing in other international clubs, have demonstrated to the whole world that though we are a small country we have the ability to do great things," he said.
He however, advised the players not to be carried away by the achievements, noting that they should work hard to achieve more.
"You must not be carried away by these achievements. The game of football is indeed a noble profession and to succeed therefore largely depends on how much commitment you attach to your training, the level of discipline you show to your coaches and colleagues."
"The payment of match bonuses and allocation of plots of land to you is a demonstration of my government's commitment in providing the required incentives to boost the game of football in this country. You must keep up the momentum and strive hard to achieve even greater things in this popular game of football."
President Jammeh advised the Gambian players playing overseas to be focused and determined so that in the near future they will be accorded the opportunity to sign for clubs in the Europe's highest leagues.
"Those who are now lucky to be playing in the international clubs, I advise you to be more focused and determined so that in the near future you will be accorded the opportunity to sign for clubs in the Europe's highest leagues.
And for those of you who are here, you must continue to take your training session seriously and dedicate most of your time to this profession you have adopted."
President Jammeh said in recent time, football has become a most popular sports, and one of the biggest industries contributing to the economies of developing countries.
Citing Brazil as an example, the President said, in the South American country, football is among the first five contributors to that economy through remittances from the foreign players in that country - thus contributing to economic growth and getting people out of poverty.
"Recently, Africa is also beginning to realise the benefits accrue from this noble sports through export of players to most European clubs. This can be testified by the number of African players playing in English Premiership, Italian Serie A, the French Champions and the Bundesliga."
"West African players constitute over 55 percent of African foreign players playing in the European Union. In The Gambia, we are yet to make significant improvement in playing in the Premiership and other highly rated European leagues."
"It is therefore pertinent that concerted efforts are made by my government and the private sector to promote and prepare Gambian players for the export market in order to eradicate poverty through sports," Jammeh said.
"It's in recognition of that, that my government has recently established a sports development fund to promote sports at all levels."
At grassroot level, the fund will revitalise school sports in collaboration with the department of state for Basic and Secondary Education, through the re-introduction of trained PE teachers to be piloted in some of the regions. The improvement of the sport infrastructures will also be an integral part of sports development programme."
"We therefore call upon the private sector to participate and develop strategic alliances with sports associations for the social and economic development of our youth."
Organised national league
President Jammeh added: "In order to develop the game of football at a sustainable basis, the Gambia Football Association and its technical department must be alert to its responsibilities. Even if my government succeeds in signing the best coach in the world, we cannot succeed without the support of a well organised, determined and committed technical team.
For any national team to succeed therefore, there has to be a professional, well organised national league that is cable of providing the crop of players needed to build a formidable team.
The President reassured that his government, through the department of Youth and Sports, will continue to create the enabling environment for the development of sports in the country.
Before this can be achieved, he added, each national sport association must be seen to be executing its mandate to the best interest of the Gambian people in general.
For his part, Major General Langtombong Tamba, first vice-president of The Gambia Football Association, who deputised for president Seedy Kinteh, said: "This is a very exciting time in the history of football in The Gambia and I would like to take this opportunity to extol the President for his worthwhile, wonderfully conceived and expertly placed idea in honouring our national heroes with a handsome and a life changing gifts in recognition of their extraordinary performances in the world youth championship in Peru, CAF U-20 tournament in Congo and the FIFA World Youth Championship held in Canada."
"Such accolades are made possible thanks largely to the personal support and encouragement of the President, Doctor Alhagi Yahya Jammeh, the most generous President in the World."
Tamba recalled when the President made similar magnanimous gesture to the senior national Scorpions in 2003 after their stunning performance
2004 African Nations Cup qualifier competition. He assured the President of their never ending and loyal support at all times, acknowledging the million dollar contribution made by President Jammeh to the team which have now metamorphosis into Under 20 and senior national team.
The GFA No. 2 said, there exists a vibrant partnership between The Gambia Football Association, the government of The Gambia through the Department of State for Youth and Sports and the private sector, noting that they will endeavour to further strengthen the existing cordial and reciprocal relationship between the two parties for the good of the game and for The Gambia, our motherland.
Wednesday's ceremony, which was chaired by Mambajicky Njie, permanent secretary at the department of state for Youth and Sports, was attended by hundreds of Gambian sports elite and enthusiasts, secretaries of state, as well as Under players and their families.
Author: by Nanama Keita