11 Dec Gambia Long and Middle Distance Athletes appeals for support
By Cherno Omar Bobb
Long and Middle Distance Athletes of The Gambia is appealling for support from stakeholders and authorities to ensure that Gambian athletes stay and compete for the country rather and naturalising and representing other countries.
Members of the club made the appeal during a press briefing held at the Gambia Red Cross Society headquarters on Thursday.
Ebrima Bah, who chaired the occasion, said efforts of the club are aimed at complementing that of the Gambia Athletics Association (GAA).
He added that their wish is to see The Gambia register at least two or more long and middle distance athletes for Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
He also called on GAA to always register long and middle distance athletes for international marathons, adding that “when Mariama T. Jallow and Lamin Sanneh used to represent The Gambia in the London Marathon, The Gambia used to appear on the world map alongside Kenya, Ethiopia and other big long and middle distance nations. We want to see that happening again.”
He also appealed for scholarships for former long and middle distance athletes to further their careers as athletics is a short career.
Sulayman Darboe, secretary general for Long and Middle Distance Athletes of The Gambia, said the club was established in 2022 to support long and middle distance athletes as more attention is given to track events in the country.
He added that the objectives of the club include: to promote athletics culture in the country, competition and team building, setting up goals and achievements, and talent identification and development.
He added that they have so far participated in the EIFFAGE Marathon held in Dakar, Senegal recently as well as in the Africell-Banjul Marathon last year and registered great success.
He thanked all those who supported and facilitated their participation in the said runs. However, he appealed for more support to facilitate their preparation and participation in future competition both locally and internationally.
Burama Badjie, head coach for the Long and Middle Distance Athletes of The Gambia, said they prepared for the EIFFAGE Marathon for four months but encountered challenges in the process. According to him, “as long and middle distance athletes in the country, we feel neglected.” He therefore called on everyone to support them better represent the country in future competitions.
Baboucarr Njie, captain for the Long and Middle Distance Athletes of The Gambia, said their aim is to establish want Kenyan long and middle distance athletes have in The Gambia. He also appealed to GAA to register and facilitate the visa processes for long and middle distance athletes for international competitions to encourage them. He expressed their wish to organise a training camp ahead of next year’s Africell-Banjul Marathon to ensure they win all categories of the marathon to be staged.
Alasan Senghore, secretary general of the Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS), said the Gambia Red Cross Society has always been providing First Aid to athletes in the country.
“In the Red Cross, we do not only do First Aid, dissemination and disasters. We build young people to become responsible future leaders in society that can bring out something that can contribute to national development,” he stated.
He observed that the long and middle distance athletes are young people who are eager to contribute and go all the way to do something they are passionate about. He therefore called on all and sundry to support and encourage the young people as sports unite people.
He noted that in other countries one has to go round to scout and encourage athletes, but in The Gambia the long and middle distance athletes are committed and have come together. He described their initiative as an advantage to any institution to capitalise on and build a very strong athletics team for the country.
Lieutenant Conel Lamin K. Sanyang, public relations officer for the Gambia Armed Forces, also appealed to stakeholders to support the initiative, saying that when the athletes go out to compete, they represent The Gambia and themselves. “Their should be that national ownership of the team,” he added. He also advised the team not to work in isolation but not to also be discouraged.