By Kebba Ansu Manneh
A group of dissatisfied athletes and members of the Gambia Swimming and Aquatic Sports Association have submitted a fourteen (14) points demand to its executive members to answer. They said if these demands are left unanswered athletes will henceforth boycott and absent themselves from all forms of training and competitions overseen by the executive of the swimming association.
These demands were contained in a letter addressed to the Executive Members of the Gambia Swimming and Aquatic Sports Association that was copied to The Voice newspaper for onward publication.
Among the demands, the athletes are requesting answers to include: Membership Form and Card; Constitution; Review of the constitution if applicable; Respect for Athletes from the Executive members and coaches.
Vice versa; transparency (selection, financial statements reports, and so on); monthly general meetings and reviews; association calendar (event); proper swimming pool for athletes to train; consideration of athlete’s health, proper swimming gear for athletes; trials before a competition; free and fair selection of Athletes for competition; physio/medic for athletes and allowance for the athletes.
In a telephone interview with this reporter, Omar Darboe, an athletes representative and the nation’s flag raiser in the just concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Islamic Games in Turkey confirmed the submission of the 14 points demand. He noted that members of the association are calling on the Executives to come forward with answers or a total boycott of training and games will follow suit.
According to him, the GSA has been facing quite a lot of challenges over time especially when it comes to the selection of athletes to represent the country as well as funding and the right preparations, noting that the situation is discouraging a lot of young athletes who are leaving the arena for other avenues due to the poor management.
He revealed that athletes who are not members of the association have been chosen to represent the country at Regional and International games at the behest of bona fide members, noting that the demands are made to draw the attention of the executives and put them on check and balance for the development of the game in the country.
He said they have made all efforts to seat and talk with the executive members but all efforts proved futile, while affirmed that the athletes are suspending all activities until the executive is ready to meet and talk with them.
Bajukasy Mendy, an athlete, who also spoke with this reporter reechoed similar sentiments, adding that any member of the association who raises an eyebrow or a concern is removed from the association’s WhatsApp group by the executives as a means to suppress views.
He disclosed that as athletes, their demands are for the association to publish its annual financial report, select active and bona fide members of the association to represent the association at all competitions and provide training gear and ground for athletes. Adding, if these demands among others are not met all athletes will boycott any session organised by the executives of the Gambia Swimming and Aquatic Sports Association from henceforth.
The Voice Newspaper contacted YorroNjie, Secretary General, Gambia Swimming and Aquatic Sports Association (GSA) to shed light on the development but several attempts to reach him on his phone numbers proved futile.