The Gambia senior national team players wrote their names in the history books in qualifying to Afcon tournament for the first time in history earlier this year (March) after defeating Angola 1-0 at home.
The senior players unanimously agreed to decline President Adama Barrow’s invitation at the State House on Monday, stating in a joint-statement that the team feels that the respect and motivation given to the players fell below what it is supposed to be.
According to the team, “playing for The Gambia has never been about money. Instead, it was always about flying the Gambian flag higher and making the Gambian people proud,” the players say in a letter.
“The players had always been happy to answer calls to play for the national team without expecting or asking for anything in return, regardless of the difficulties that sometimes come with it.
“Football is a game of incentives. Having qualified to compete in next year’s African cup of Nations for the first time in Gambian history. The team deserves to be given a bonus that would motivate the players and every child who dreams of playing for the Gambia someday.”
“The team feels that the respect and motivation given to the players fall below what it is supposed to be. For that reason, the players unanimously decided to decline the invitation.”
“We hope that going forward, the players will be given enough motivation as the preparations for the African cup continue.”
Meanwhile, the move by the Gambian players has been met with mixed reactions.
Modou Lamin Camara, a Gambian fan, welcomed the move made by the Gambian players, saying that “monkey work and baboon eats” behaviour should now be stopped.
“Players will do everything possible to move the country to another stage, while others are even enjoying than the ones doing all the work,”
Momodou Barry, another fan, said that everything is not about money, adding that every government and nation has different beliefs and ideas.
“I don’t think that it’s bad for the president presenting D11 million dalasis. This shows that he appreciated the achievements they have made. Honestly I am not in support of what the senior players did,” he weighed in.
Jainaba Sabally said that everything is not about money, noting that though the money given might be too small for players and backroom staff to share, “but people need to understand that there are other national issues that should be prioritised for huge amounts.”
The Gambia on Monday presented the following: D500,000 to Volleyball, D2.5million to Under-20 football team and D11.1million to the senior national team.