RFA female players take vaccines to protect each other in LRR
By Ismaila Sonko
Karamba Fatajo, the public health officer at Lower River Region has said female players, coaches, and league personnel have worked to protect each other by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that the COVID-19 vaccination education efforts began in early 2021, after COVID-19 vaccines became available.
According to him, all players, coaches, and personnel were required to complete COVID-19 education sessions delivered by independent medical experts.
Nyima Fofana, the head coach of Kinteh’s Eleven (11) FC of Sankuia village in the LRR, said guidance from public health officials and medical experts made it clear that getting as many players, coaches, personnel, and family members vaccinated as possible ways to combat the spread of COVID-19.
She added that to encourage COVID-19 vaccination among players, the RFA provided vaccine education from independent trusted messengers, made vaccines easily accessible, delivered a unified message from league and team leaders, and implemented meaningful motivations.
“It’s very important to not only protect yourself but others around you, especially those who are older and the youth. If you haven’t gotten the vaccine, get it not only for you, but for the people around you,” she said.
She mentioned that the league also worked with players located outside of their team’s city to coordinate with local pharmacies to get them vaccinated. This flexibility was particularly helpful to vaccinate players who didn’t live in their team’s hometown.
“Always wearing a mask when inside club, travel restrictions during bye weeks when a team doesn’t play in a game limits on attending venues and events monetary fines for noncompliance; these policies motivated additional players to get vaccinated,” she noted.
She said adapting to changing conditions recognising the unpredictable nature of the virus, the RFA remains committed to adapting its protocols to changing conditions.
Lamin Kinteh, a member of Regional Football Association (RFA) who oversees the league’s player health and safety work, said to continue the vaccine conversation after the education sessions, the RFA enlisted medical experts in players’ local communities to answer COVID-19 vaccine questions and address misinformation, helping them make informed vaccination decisions.
“This included hosting league-wide and club-specific information sessions with doctors and experts.”
He said the RFA equipped club personnel, including team physicians, athletic trainers, and coaches, with COVID-19 vaccine information.
Fatoumatta Jammeh, a player from Toniataba village Female Team, said the RFA adjusted the vaccination guidelines for unvaccinated players and strong recommendations by RFA medical leadership that players can now get one vaccine dose to be considered fully protected under the league’s protocols, which has resulted in player vaccinations.
She said the Regional Football Association has taken a comprehensive approach to encourage COVID-19 vaccination, alongside strong messaging and a willingness to listen to players and staff.
She indicated that from the start of the pandemic, leaders across the RFA have been united in delivering consistent and continuous COVID-19 information. This has enabled the league to prevent confusion and limit misinformation, which has been particularly important through the surge in cases due to the Delta variant and increased reporting of breakthrough cases in vaccinated people.
Mariama Darboe, the team captain of New Town Female Team in Soma, LRR, said the leadership and medical professionals have been transparent from the start that it is possible to get COVID-19 when vaccinated, while stressing that the vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness or death related to COVID-19.
She noted that supporting Vaccinations among Fans and the Public in addition to encouraging vaccination internally, the Regional Football Association (RFA) of LRR is committed to supporting efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccinations among its fans and the general public.
According to her, the RFA COVID-19 vaccination strategy is comprehensive and inclusive; it is rooted in teamwork and strong leadership.
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through its Mobilising Media partner Kaba Communications in the Fight Against COVID-19 in partnership with The Point.