By Cherno Omar Bobb
Members of the Gambia Paralympics athletes and Powerlifting teams on Wednesday paid a courtesy call on the minister of Youth and Sports Bakary Y. Badjie at the Independence stadium in Bakau.
The courtesy call followed the participation of Para athletes and a powerlifter at the recent Para Athletics Championship in Tunisia and Powerlifting World Cup in Manchester respectively. The objective was to present their medals to the minister.
Speaking on behalf of the teams, the coach, Hagie Drammeh, said powerlifter Modou Gamo finished fourth during the Manchester tournament therefore qualifying for the Georgia and Dubai qualifiers.
Mr. Drammeh pointed out that this had been the best year for Gambian Para sports since its inception and thanked all those who supported them. He informed Minister Badjie that because of their recent success there are individuals from other associations trying to bring chaos into their association, which he said they do not need.
Drammeh further said that they are open to anyone that wants to bring development to disability sports but they will not allow people to use the back door. He noted that what they need is partnership, saying their doors are also open to all persons with disabilities across the country.
Abdoulie Danso, the coach of the Gambia National Paralympics Committee (GNPC) athletics said despite their success they were still faced with challenges going into the Para Athletics Championship, such as not having enough financial support and lack of standard racing wheelchairs. He therefore called on the Youth and Sports Minister to consider securing them standard equipment to ensure they register more success for the country.
On his part, Demba Jarju, an athlete said they will continue to work hard to bring more success to the country.
In his response, Minister Badjie said the athletes did not only represent the Gambia but competed and made the country proud. He encouraged them to do more for the country.
Badjie said his ministry’s interest was to see sports develop in the country as well as ensure young people are supported and empowered in every positive thing they do. He told the different associations that if the ministry received their requests for support in time, they will always do what they can.
Commenting on those who want to cause chaos within Para sports Minister Badjie said everybody wants to associate themselves with success but he was quick to add that they will not encourage people trying to push away those who have been scarifying when associations were crawling and take over when they succeed.
“The National Sports Council will never register a parallel association claiming to be Paralympics”, he assured them. He however urged the association to open up to those who want to work with them for greater success.
Badjie admitted that to achieve results in sports they must invest, saying that they are willing to invest within their financial ability.