Several athletes and stakeholders of the Gambia Swimming and Aquatic Sports Association have addressed a letter to the National Sports Council (NSC) complaining about the administration of their association. They also expressed unhappiness about the conduct of the leaders of the association and forwarded a 14-point demand.
The letter seen by The Standard enumerated several allegations against the association’s officials including neglect of athletes welfare, ostracisation of stakeholders critical of the running of the association, unfair selection, non-payment of allowances , lack of structures and decent facilities for the sport among other things.
They further alleged that there has not been any proper process in the selection of athletes for international competition and general incompetency and lack of transparency on the side of the association.
The protesting stakeholders continued to to make the following demands:
1. Membership card
2. Constitution of the Gambia swimming Association
3. Review of the constitution, if applicable
4. Respect for athletes from the Executive members and coaches. Vice versa.
5. Transparency (selection, Financial Statements, Reports etc.).
6. Monthly general meetings and review
7. Association calendar (stating with swimming events both national and internationally)
8. Proper swimming pool for athletes to train.
9. Consideration of athlete’s health/ welfare
10. Proper and standard swimming gears for athletes
11. Trials before competition
12. Free and fair selection of athletes for competition
13. Physio /medic for athletes.
14. Allowance for athletes.
The Standard contacted the Swimming Association’s secretary general Yoro Njie who said the association does not directly deal with athletes, but their clubs. ”However, it is important to clarify that the association is very committed to developing real athletes who want a career in the sport and not people only interested in travel opportunities,” he said.
About unfair selection claims, Mr Njie said athletes are selected based on their technical, discipline and other attributes as may be determined by the coach who has the discretion to select anyone he finds suitable.
Mr Njie further stated that it is not the responsibility of the association to provide a swimming pool but they have been hiring swimming pools mainly from hotels for the purpose of training and competitions.
On the issue of allowances, Mr Njie said the association has never defaulted in paying allowances to any member of a traveling team. On the demand by the complainants for frequent meetings with the association, Mr Njie stressed that the association is answerable to the clubs and not directly the athletes.” They have representatives in their clubs through which they can channel any issues they want to be brought to the association”, Njie said.