Secondary school sports set for return


Information reaching the Enlightener indicates that a secondary school sport is set for return. This information was revealed by Mr. Martin Gomez, Chairman, Secondary School Sports Association, in an interview during the recently concluded Coordinating Committee Meeting held in Central River Region.

A regional organizing committee headed by Mr. Cherno Touray, an important sports figure in the country has been put in place. He is chairman of Secondary School Sports Competitions and he will be working with Gambia Secondary School Sports Association to organize sports programs. Work is expected to begin soon.

According to Mr. Gomez, the recent sports hullabaloo between Bansang Senior Secondary School and Armitage Senior Secondary School has created setbacks for the association. “Last year schools were preparing for the competition when the problem happened. It happened a few days before the competition commenced. As a result, a ban was slammed on the association. This really affected the association,” he bemoaned.

The ban on Secondary school sports activities came into being as a result of the problem between Bansang and Armitage during the regional hits of the secondary school sports.

Following that the Minister for Basic and Secondary Education, sent a team from the Conference of Principals including Mr. Martin Gomez, Principal, St. Augustine’s Senior Secondary School, Mr. Karamo Bojang, Principal, Nusrat Senior Secondary School, Mr. Lamin Jaiteh, Principal, Gambia Senior Secondary School amongst others.

On their arrival, they investigated the issue, wrote a report with recommendations before leaving and went to the schools to speak to the principals. They were also able to set up a motion of reconciliation.

However, upon their return, they were told to suspend the activities of Secondary School Sports, map out a strategy and submit it to the Ministry. The guidelines have been worked out and the ban may soon be lifted according to Mr. Gomez.

Mr. Gomez however, ate humble pie by acknowledging that sometimes setbacks can provide a learning experience for human beings. “Sometimes setbacks can be good. We have learnt a lot from the incident. We have a better approach to competitions now.

“The other thing we have learnt is that the association alone cannot take care of the competition because of the numbers involved and the changing orientation of students. So we have learnt that we need to work with other stakeholders to have a better organization of the competition,” he added.

He alluded to the fact that the association has the potential to transform the sports landscape of the country by serving as a recruitment base for national associations.

“Bai Malleh Wadda was identified through activities that were organized by Secondary School Sports and those activities are still ongoing.

“Bai Malleh was a school boy international because he had talents. There are children today who have similar talents and can also be school boy internationals. Football has grown to a level where you have lots of competitions.

So for someone to excel like Bai Malleh is possible and I think what we have to do is to strengthen the other associations like the Gambia Football Association (GFA),” he noted.

He suggested that associations should take advantage of secondary school competitions to organize programs for national championships, adding that right now you rarely hear about basketball competitions not to talk about a national basketball team.

“Basketball used to produce teams that used to beat Senegal and now Senegal has one of the best basketball teams in Africa. So there is some kind of negligence on the part of sports associations. School sports has been doing well and has held the fort for a long time,” he said.

He noted that there are good sportsmen at school level, but when they leave school, there are no structures to absorb them. “There are real talents at the school level, but there are no structures to absorb them when they leave school,” he lamented.

Mr. Gomez made a clean breast when asked about the dominance of football in the country. “It is very sad because Senegal, our neighbours, are taking part in every Olympic sport and the organization in all their associations is impeccable. That is why they are making headways in sports.

“Here in The Gambia we have better beaches than Senegal but everything is concentrated in football. All the revenues of sports go into football. All the resources of football go into sports. So all the other sports suffer,” he lamented adding that this support for football is stifling the potential of the other sports.

Mr. Gomez revealed the intention of his association to collaborate with other associations to take sports to higher heights. “Our doors are open. If the national associations want to collaborate with us, they are welcome. We are the reservoir of other sports. It is in secondary school sports that you can come to get talents. So we should have a working relationship with the national associations,” he revealed.

He also underscored the significance of planning in sports success, noting that failing to plan is planning to fail. “People do not want to plan, yet they want to win. It does not work like that. There must be good planning. There must be structured training programs. The talents are there but we don’t plan.

“Look at how we prepare our national teams. We are still not serious about our national sports,” he lamented. If you look at our performance, it fluctuates. Today, we perform well and the next day we underperform,” he observed.

Mr. Gomez also lamented the fact that most Gambians are yet to understand the role of sports in teaching and learning, thinking that sport does not contribute in the learning process.

“They only come to school to learn and get the qualifications. Sport however, is part of the learning process. Education emphasizes the body and the mind,” he said noting that a healthy body makes a healthy mind.

“The body harbors the mind and the mind must be very healthy. Music helps to develop the mind. Therefore, in our school system, music and sports are very important. Right now I am so disappointed with the way teachers are being trained at the college.

“They are not taught music and yet they are expected to teach music in schools. During the days of the Yundum College, teacher trainees used to be taught music.

“That should change. Sometimes we do things for no justifiable reason. Sports and music were not introduced for a justifiable reason. They used to be one of the most important subjects in the curriculum.

“But nowadays, teachers are only being trained in academics and so when they become principals they do not give any emphasis to sports,” he said.

 He revealed that in most schools, sport is treated very badly. “Schools select people at random to teach it. He is a young man so he can do it. It is not about being a young man, but knowing what you are supposed to do. It is rather unfortunate, but I hope that things will change one day,” he affirmed.

Vision for secondary school sports

Mr. Gomez said that he expects his association to be a very vibrant one in the next five years. “I expect the association to be able to develop and build sports teams for the various sports every year so that there will be a national team for volleyball, basketball and athletics.

“Through this, we will be able to compete with our counterparts in other countries. I also hope that we will be able to provide the core of athletes for the teams of the various sports,” he proudly said.

He however, called for an end to conflict in sports, saying sports is about winners and in the conflict between Bansang and Armitage, there was no winner.

“People should desist from such things. Sports is about bringing people closer, creating links and networks and if we should end up fighting against each other, that is unfortunate because the outcome should not be that,” he said.



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