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CLASSY BRIKAMA LEAVES GUNJUR'S DREAM IN RUINS

The outstanding unbeaten dominance shown by the defending champions Gunjur could have only been complemented by adding a super cup title, but those dreams were left in ruins, as Brikama thrashed them 3 - 0 in the Super Cup of the West Coast Region Zonal Championship to put an end to their dominance, at a jam-packed Boxbar mini-stadium.Gunjur made a bright start and forced Brikama into conceding a penalty within two minutes as Brikama's goalkeeper Ebrima Fadera was penalised for a foul on Babucarr Bojang, but the goalkeeper make amends for his error to save Babucarr Bojang's penalty and also a follow-up strike. Brikama then opened the scoring from the resulting attack as the prolific Saikou Ceesay poked home a rebound after the Gunjur custodian Ousman Touray parried a cross to his path. In their efforts to restore parity before the break, Gunjur's Baba Colley had a header ricochet the crossbar and Celestin Jatta also had a goal-bound header, headed out by a Brikama defender on the goal line as Brikama headed into the interval with a slender advantage. Whatever Brikama was told during the halftime team talk, was executed by the players as they add to their lead within a minute after the restart - when diminutive Bubacarr Sanneh fired home a screamer to draw wild celebrations from the home crowd. Even with that 2 - 0 lead, it appears Brikama did not have Gunjur their way, and they duly added a third goal to brush aside any hopes of a Gunjur comeback. It was the diminutive Babucarr Sanneh again who orchestrated a destructive Brikama attack down the right where he exchanged passes before sneaking into the box to fire a shot out of the reach of the rushing Gunjur goalkeeper for his second goal, and Brikama's third. That sealed a  comfortable 3 - 0 win over the champions Gunjur, much to the disbelief of their traveling supporters and to the delight of home supporters. The 'our land our cup' chants before and during the game by the Brikama supporters, ultimately turned into reality as Brikama clinched the super cup to serve notice to the rest of the teams about their title ambitions.Up against a gritty and physically powerful side, Gunjur were not just beaten, they were torn apart, ripped to pieces by a Brikama side blend with young talented, and experienced players. Whether Brikama will be able to show a performance like this in their away fixtures, is a question for another day, but, they have shown it in front of their home supporters in this Super Cup, against a side they have not beaten in their last four meetings, only managing a single draw. Brikama did not deserve to be in the Super Cup after finishing 4th in last season's campaign, but they deserve this victory against Gunjur. They were selected to play in the Super Cup after the runners Sanyang confirm their participation lately and Brikama took advantage of the rare opportunity coupled with home support to inflict heavy revenge on Gunjur, a side that thrashed them 6 - 2 on aggregate in the semi-finals en route to this stage. If the performance of Gunjur last season make people believe that a title defense is a possibility for the Kombo South giants, this scoreline against a purposeful Brikama side will cast doubts over those beliefs.

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GFF ELECTION ON THE HORIZON – KAMASO VS KABBA - WHO IS WHO?

There has never been a heated build-up to a Gambia Football Federation election like the country is witnessing, and that credit must be given to Sadibou Kamaso who stands boldly out of the many football lovers to oppose a man once his God Father – Lamin Kaba Bajo.With the election finally on the horizon, the campaigning atmosphere has been tense, from the Greater Banjul Area to the Regions as Kaba and Kamaso continue to canvas for votes. But who is who?That has been the widely raised question, and whether they are both competent or not. At the end of it all, it must be either Kaba or Kamaso that will administer the country’s football for the next four years.The fact that many stakeholders are not openly taking sides makes it difficult for one to conclude who is the likeliest candidate to sweep the pool.THE WEAKNESSBoth Kaba and Kamaso have previously served in the GFF executive and one will expect them to have an idea as to how the game should be administered. The duo like any other football administrator must have a weakness and their campaigns are widely centered on what has gone wrong for either of them.With Kaba hitting Kamaso on the missing money under kamaso’s watch in Morocco, Kamaso has equally been lambasting Kaba on the missing GFF millions and for failing on his promises. Campaigning against someone who knows your weakness, could be a challenge for anyone, and that has been one major weakness for Kaba and as such he dodged all face-to-face encounters with Kamaso.MANIFESTING BRAVERY  Whether it was a sharp tongue, the desire for a position, or an interest in the development of the game, whatever the case, Sadibou has clearly manifested bravery in his campaigning by appearing in a live televised debate to talk about his policies and how he intends to ‘restore the confidence he has been campaigning on. Sadibou Kamaso has shown readiness to appear on any TV or Radio program irrespective of how tough he thinks it will be for him.Whether it was evasive or a strategy, the GFF incumbent failed to take on his challenger face-on at any given opportunity. At his campaign team’s behest, Lamin Kaba Bajo declined the invitation for a first-ever live televised football debate and all other live television programs where Sadibu had accepted to appear.Kamaso capitalised on the absence of the incumbent and sold his idea to the football world, perhaps in a more honest and open setting, which could have been a major turning point for his bid to control "Football house".In all honesty, it was a missed opportunity for Kaba to sell his new agenda, defend his record in office and dismiss all allegations of mismanagement against his administration. His absence did not help the lost confidence that Sadibu is saying he wants to restore, particularly among the general public.DECISION MAKERS  Now the country’s football future squarely lies in the hands of the decision makers – Stakeholders. Will go with Kaba’s team of ‘Continuity’ or Kamaso’s ‘Restore Confidence’ team? Whatever decision they make, must be in the interest of football development. Some represent clubs and some communities of close to 30, 000 people, and others, entire Regions.The stakeholders are in the nick of things, they are witnesses to football development and pitfalls in the country. The decision they make will have implications not only on the close circuit of stakeholders but on the entire nation. The outcome of the 27th of August election is what the country has to deal with for the next four years. That decision must not be one that will warrant one to seek forgiveness for taking the wrong decision.     

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THE ULTIMATE GOAL: HAWKS END 26 YEARS WAIT FOR GFF LEAGUE TITLE

This was not the dream at the start of the season, but ultimately Hawks a football team with a development mindset betrayed their ideology for good, and registered a success that even the bookies and pundits were not foreseeing. They end their long wait for a Gambia Football Federation [GFF] First Division League title as they become the 2022 GFF League Champions, the first time since they last won it in 1996.Hawks have recorded 19 wins, 5 draws, and 6 defeats in their 30 league games - scoring 38 goals and conceding just 17 in the process.This was the third time Hawks laid their hands on the coveted trophy, having previously won it in 1993 and 1996. The intervals between the second and the third is long but Hawks can brag and claim that they end their title drought when they were not fully prepared for it.As League Champions, Hawks received a check for 750, 000 Gambian Dalasi, while first runners up Real De Banjul received GMD300, 000 and second runners Steve Biko FC pockets GMD150, 000. Before the start of the season, if any pundit should consider Hawks in the top five teams as title contenders, might receive a mockery of a lifetime. With the then defending champions Fortune FC in a red hot form, Wallidan F.C the big spenders who strengthened their squad with talent and experience and even had a training camp in Saudi Arabia where they might have prayed so hard for God to grant them the title that has recently been elusive. Real De Banjul showing how much desperate they are for the title changing coaches like how a preseason team makes substitutions, Brikama United from a highly demanding community, reshuffle their technical set-up and add more quality to their squad in their pursuit, plus the institutional team's [GAF, GPA & Gamtel] with strong financial and moral backing, were largely the bookies favourite at the beginning.But something changed along the line and Hawks capitalised."I have never been tasked to win the title this season, during the cause of the league we see how teams are performing and we think we can fight for the league and collectively we achieved what we believe" Alieu Jagne the Hawks coach said. Whether it was a plan or a gamble, Hawks can never be looked at as a lucky winner, they laboured so hard for their success. Continuously improving in their standings as the league progress. Since they took over the top spot from Brikama United and Real De Banjul, they never surrendered it, showing how consistent they were. But forget about consistency, Hawks a side full of young energetic players with perhaps a single journeyman in Mass Manga who has even been a rock-solid for them at the back, are as energetic as one might imagine. Hardly will they surrender ball possession to any opposition, making it virtually impossible for any team to register success against them, which is justified by the six defeats they registered throughout the season in the league. They played in a way so endeared to any spectator, close controls, slick and incisive movements and a lethal attacking force are what they relied heavily on to punish their opponents. As in the case of their final league game against Team Rhino when they keep stitching passes together until in the 82nd minute when they realised their opponents were running with tired legs that captain Omar Sarr who came on as a substitute, scored the only goal to wrap up what was already a delightful season.Who will expect Hawks not to produce a solid team like this when they have one of the best technically minded individuals in Sang Ndong in their midst who could be one of the people who reserve the bragging rights to associate himself with the Gambia National Team's success in Cameroon. His 'Rebuilding and Rebranding' idea works so right for the Scorpions and Hawks are in the same rebuilding process, even though they did not start setting a target but the strategy starts to yield results.If there is one thing that went right above all others it is Hawks' commitment to a footballing style which was dazzling and devastatingly effective. Possession of the ball was shown not only to be a means to scoring goals but, even more importantly, a means to preventing them too, a way of controlling the game. It is debatable if any team maintains possession like Hawks, as many big teams found out to their cost when they tried matching Hawks' flair. Possession football can be a defensive tactic as much as an offensive one.Hawks' choice of path to the crown never wavered, even when some said it had. And in the end, it proved the right one to take. Hawks have long considered their football the most artistic. And they might not be wrong, it has proven the most effective too this season

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A Renewed Commitment, Scorpions Eye AFCON Return

That feeling of playing and supporting a nation so dear to one's heart with great emotions has been tested by Gambians when the Scorpions made a maiden AFCON appearance in Cameroon. A population of about two million is eager for similar excitement as the Scorpions set to renew their commitment with both eyes fixed on a return to the Africa Cup of Nations. Preparations for the 2023 qualifiers have reached the climax with a venue for the Gambia's first game being identified, the squad being named and a training camp organised for the team. Gambia's squad for the game against South Sudan and Congo is already in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where they are invited for a test game against the UAE. A game that ended 1 - 1 as Musa Barrow scored an equaliser for the visitors in the second half. The Scorpions used it as a preparatory camp before they fly to Senegal to play South Sudan on 4th June and Congo on June 8th in Brazzaville.  This could be a usual campaign for the players, but not the supporters who will have to miss the home games of their team for now. Hopes are high that this could well be another successful qualifier for the Scorpions who promised the nation a return to the AFCON. And Tom certainly had the personnel that can fulfill that promise. Sulayman Marreh as the brilliant creative quarterback, the fulcrum the entire offensive unit revolves around, the excellent all-round game of his central midfield alter-ego Ebou Adams, the subtlety on the ball and superb movements in the hole of Musa Barrow with his powerful drives, the outstanding Yusupha Bobb with his delicate touch and visionary movements, the work ethics of striker Assan Ceesay and the complementary wing threat: the more fluid running and ball skills of Ablie Jallow and the forcefulness of Ebrima Colley coupled with so much quality like the master class displays of the midfield maestro Hamza Barry and the dazzling moves of the unstoppable Steve Trawally, the Scorpions could be up for another history-making campaign. During the 2021 AFCON, Tom and his team were widely tipped to be heading for a Cameroonian fall after poor pretournament preparation – not only did a young and relatively inexperienced squad defy the odds to reach the AFCON Quarterfinals in their maiden appearance, they achieved it with commitment, dash, and ingenuity.  This could be another glittering campaign. The Squad For Sudan & Congo Games: Gambia's coach Tom Saintfiet's style of player selection always allows his critics to load their ammunition and fire at him. The narrative stay as usual after the coach named his squad for the Sudan game. It appears as if the coach is now so accustomed to criticism. The Belgian invited 25 players that excluding some notable names some of who were instrumental during the AFCON in Cameroon. Explaining his reasons, Tom said those players are either injured or demanded to be excused for the first two games. According to Tom in an interview with AfriRadio, Steve Trawallly, Saidy Janko, Ebou Adams, and Noah Sonko Sundberg all requested to be left out, while Ebrima Colley and Ali Sowe are said to be injured and Hamza Barry who was included is said to miss the first two games due to passport issue. The Scorpions further went on to lose two players Modou Secka Barrow and Dembo Darboe to injury, they are replaced with Nuha Marong and Bun Sanneh (the only home-based player). So long as it may be agreed that so much quality is lost by missing those players, it can equally be agreed that there is some much quality on the list to bank on. With the return of Ablie Jallow, added to, Musa Barrow and Assan Ceesay who is in red hot form. Rocky centre-backs in Omar Colley and James Gomez and dynamic midfielders like Sulayman Marreh, Ebrima Darbo, and Yusupha Bobb can all help Tom have it his way against Sudan as the players have a greater understanding of the Belgian pragmatic tactical approaches. The Unusual:  This generation of the Scorpions supporters is faced with something unusual as both FIFA and CAF agreed that The Gambia doesn't have the infrastructure that is fit for purpose, as such they've been banned from hosting international matches. This forced the Gambia Football Federation to negotiate with Senegal for The Gambia to host their home games. That massive crowd might not be seen when the Scorpions play, even though some economically strong supporters will still travel and GFF will be able to generate some little income from the little tickets they will sell. A massive loss for the country morally and economically, but this might not affect the performance of the team as demonstrated in their previous ties outside like against Algeria, DR Congo, and Angola where the Scorpions showed outstanding displays without their supporters. Hopes Most of the Scorpions players have enjoyed some fortune with their clubs and hopes are high that they can carry along the same luck to the Scorpions camp and make their campaign a fortunate one.  The Scorpions are drawn in the same group as Congo, Mali, and South Sudan, which is not a more so difficult group judging by the recent form and achievement of the three teams. Scorpions could be buoyed by the recent underachievement of their opponents and build on that.  South Sudan who were admitted into CAF as recently as 2012, never qualify in their attempts in 2015 and 2021. Congo who last played the AFCON in 2015 where they finished as a quarterfinalist, were hit with misfortune since then and they were unable to qualify for the past three editions.Mali the most consistent side in the group in terms of appearance since 2008 played in all the editions since then but the far they could go in the past two editions was a Round of 16 finish. This indicates that the Scorpions who finished as quarterfinalists in the last edition in Cameroon have had a more recent success than their opponents. Analytically, their chances of advancing from this group are high. 

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Delayed But Not Denied, GFF Ultimately Brings Joy In Brikama & Banjul

A promise by the Gambia Football Federation [GFF] that was supposed to last for months but took almost two years, was ultimately fulfilled as the GFF deliver its promise to change the turf in Brikama and Banjul mini stadiums. For these footballing communities, this was long overdue and ultimately they smiled as football is on the verge of returning home. The two communities have endured the agony of playing home games away, a lack of "Nawettan" - Summer Championship, and a complete loss of revenue which greatly hampered the growth of the games in the area.  Now that there is hope on the horizon, this can bring along relief not only for Brikama and Banjul but for the many teams who can use the ground to play their league games. And even the pickpocketers within Brikama will rejoice that crowding will soon star at the popular arena, for them an opportunity to practice their defacto profession. I had a personal experience with them, when they stole my only D200 from my pocket around 2012 when Brikama play Esperance Sportive De Tunis, I was nearly left stranded as that was supposed to be my fare back home - laugh. Indications are there that the delay is now history as the scotching of the synthetic artificial turf in both Brikama and Banjul nears completion, while the expansion of dressing rooms and the stands and also the construction of spectators' toilets are also ongoing. BUT WHAT HAS BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DELAY? We tried to independently find out from Bakary K. Jammeh the project manager of the GFF but our efforts were futile. As per the information we received from Sports Administrators from both Brikama and Banjul was a "lack of funds". Logically, that's right. If the Federation has not mismanaged the funds for the projects or diverted them to somewhere else, the story of these grounds would have been different. Reports indicate that the money spent on the project is from the AFCON bonuses recently given to the Gambia by CAF. Whatever the case, the refurbishment of the two grounds is delayed but not denied. 

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Commentary

BOTTROP AND SCANAID CRIES, BAKOTEH LAUGH AND LK SABIJI PROVES UNMATCHED IN SCHOOL ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPThe unexpected last-ditch catastrophe that struck the defending champions Bottrop Technical Senior Secondary School and Scanaid, turned out to be a blessing for Bakoteh Upper and Senior Secondary School. Bakoteh had the last laugh and clinched their first title in School Athletics Championship and Latrikunda Sabiji proved unmatched and makes it six titles in a row in the Upper Basic category. Indications were there that Bottrop would have defended their title considering their strength or Scanaid Senior School would clinch the title as they defeated Bakoteh to clinch the Region one title. Bakoteh couldn’t have hoped for anything better than Bottrop and Scanaid’s suspension as they [Bakoteh] secured the crown at the expense of the rest with the 100-thousand-dalasi prize money and winners medal.  Analysts have boldly stated before the championship that at the Upper Basic School level, the title was for Latrikunda and it turned just that way as they retain their title with an unmatched performance that saw them amass 398 points. Other Schools might claim they tried enough, but their efforts were not enough to stop Bakoteh and Latrikunda.  Charles Jow and Saint Michael finished second and third respectively and pocketed 50 and 25 thousand dalasi.  At the Upper Basic School category, Barra-Essau finished as runners-up with 25 thousand price money and Brikama U.B.S as the second runners-up received 15 thousand dalasis. If Bottrop and Scanaid had not shed tears of despair, Bakoteh wouldn’t have shed tears of joy. Whether they will win it again or not, Bakoteh are the legitimate champions for the 2022 National Inter-Schools Athletics Championship.   BOMBSHELL: There has never been a shock in the championship than we saw with just three days to the competition. The organisers dropped a bombshell that left the affected schools shedding tears. Bottrop, Mahaad, Scanaid, Nusrat, Mingdaw among other schools were suspended from participating for using ineligible athletes during the regional championship. This was a shock for the entire athletics family, such a bold decision came as a surprise, but school authorities say it was aimed to “sanitize” the championship.   UNMATCHED PERFORMANCE: Winning an athletics title will require energy, consistency and athleticism. That was what the winners combined to display an unmatched performance which saw them secure the titles with the widest of point difference. For Latrikunda Sabiji it was an easy ride in virtually all the events. If one thinks they are at their worst, that is when they finished second in the race. LK put together a formidable sprint and middle-distance team that scooped almost all the events as they amassed 398 points, 206 points more than second-place Barra-Essau who secured 192 points.  A lucky performance can't earn one such incredible points. Latrikunda were simply irresistible.  In the senior category, Bakoteh were equally above the rest. Their male team sometimes will have to negotiate their way in some events and miss some. For the girls, it was a clear victory all through, from the 100m, 200m, 1,500m, 300, 4x400, and Medley relay. Binta Jallow and co were just no match to the rest. This was justified by the 365 points they secured, leaving a gap of 181 points from second place Charles Jow who recorded 184 points. OUTSTANDING ATHLETES: The School Athletics always unravel bright potentials in athletics and the 2022 edition has seen an increase even though some previous performers have stayed defiant in their various events. With some bullet-like movements, Sitta Jarju, Isatou Gibba, Halimatou Saho all of Latrikunda Sabiji UBS were simply not at the same level as the rest of the girls in the sprint events as they emerged first anytime they stood on the tracks.  In the middle-distance events, Mariama Barry of LK Sabiji proved energetic to win the 3000m girls open, while Sarjo Badjie of Arrangallen was the most energetic as he scooped the goal medal in the 5000m open boys. Musa Kujabi of WYCE Upper Basic School was one of the fastest sprinters in the boy’s category, finishing first in the U-15 boys' category.  At the senior school category, the girls of Bakoteh [Binta Jallow and Mariama Camara] were simply the best, the only position they settled for was the first position. If you think Bakoteh are only good at sprinting, wait for their middle-distance team. Safiatou Sanneh of Bakoteh Upper and Senior was the most energetic female athlete. She finished first in the 1,500m and 3,000m open girls respectively. Essau’s Amadou Sowe had the first laugh as he clinch the first gold medal at the National Championship winning both the 5,000m and 1,500m open boys for senior school. For some students, this was their final season, but for some, they will have to return to see if they can defend their crowns in the next championship.   CHALLENGES:  School sports might have been doing well, but the nation is not doing enough in developing the talents it has been and still producing. One might brag about Gina Bass for passing through school sports, but the gap between her and the rest of the athletes produced by the schools is immeasurable.  The challenge has been and remains the platform for developing young talents. “Our work stops at producing athletes for the Gambia Athletics Association [GAA], but they’ve not been doing enough. For athletics to develop in the country, there should be proper structures in the country if we are truly serious about developing athletics.”  Ismaila Ceesay the President of Secondary School Sports said. The gap between Region one and the rest of the Regions remains the same as the country’s only track for athletics is situated in region one. This could be considered as a total injustice for a Nation whose most outstanding athletes are usually drawn from the rest of the regions. When are the authorities going to show real commitment in addressing the persistent challenge?  PLANS AHEAD:  “This is what we can do, to produce talents for the Athletics Association”, were the remarks of Ismaila Ceesay the President of Secondary School Sports Association. In as much as that might be right, school authorities might also be hold accountable for not putting up enough strategies for the athletes they reserve the bragging rights over. As if they were told that they need to do more, the Secondary School Sports Association said they are coming up with another competition – Regional Championship which will bring together school-going athletes representing various regions in the National Regional School Championship. But what next after their academic careers, perhaps a question for GAA to answer. This could be another competition for the nation to scout real raw potentials for better and much-needed representation at the international level.  It will be a tragedy to see the talents of these school going students end after their grade 12. With the suspended schools set to return with ‘unstoppable force’ that means more queens and kings on the tracks in the next edition and justice will be served if realistic advances are put in place to help the passionate athletes develop themselves at the end of their school careers.  

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Gambian cares for dozens of orphans in Kinshasha, DRC.

Kinshasa, a city of nearly 20 million inhabitants, one man from The Gambia is making a difference. Bouna Batchilly, a native of Garawol who arrived in the DRC nearly 30 years ago to search for greener pastures was moved by the plight of children in this huge and bustling city. Bouna singlehandedly adopted over 500 abandoned children and orphans, through his foundation, giving them hope and a future.Many of them have now traveled to Europe, the US and Middle East. For him giving back to a country that gave him so much gives him great personal satisfaction. As he beams with happiness and satisfaction, Bouna believes every child deserves an opportunity to realise their potential. Nearly 30 years running the foundation, Bouna has won praise from several humanitarian organisations and embassies in Kinshasa who often render help. There are currently more than 30 children living with him, cared for by his wife and staff employed by the foundation. His efforts have drawn admiration from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Gambians Abroad Dr Mamadou Tangara who visited the orphanage accompanied by the Secretary General and head of the civil service Noah Touray and the Honorary Consul Ansumana Tunkara.  Bouna is also the President of the Gambia Association in Kinshasa, working with likeminded Gambians to promote the interests and welfare of the community in Congo. His wish is to leave a legacy in the Congo, and believes that Gambians wherever they are exhibit that humane spirit of love, care and solidarity.  

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From Minnows To Heroes: Gambia's Fairytale AFCON Campaign

It was on January 12th 2022 that Africa welcomed a tiny country to the Africa cup of nations. This was a boast long overdue for a country that spent over half a century fighting for such a moment. Historically, Gambia's national anthem was sung for the first time in the AFCON when they stood up in the lineup in their opening group game against Mauritania.Emotional moment for the players and supporters some of whom were shedding tears as they sang along the anthem. Perhaps the Gambia's most-watched game in history, from the President of the Republic down under, many sat before television sets to watch a Scorpion maiden AFCON appearance with immense joy.The wait for such a moment is now history. Scorpions played five games, won three, drew one, lost one and exited at the quarterfinals, a truly historic achievement for a nation making its first AFCON appearance. For so long the game’s greatest underachievers at the grandest stage, could now consider themselves as overachievers. And whatever way, history will forever remember The Gambia for their achievements in the first AFCON berth.Remarkable start:Given the pre-tournament COVID cases and the poor preparations as all their preparatory test matches were all cancelled during their pre-tournament training camp, the Gambia came into the AFCON in almost total disarray and morale was at an all-time low.What better way, then, to give the team and the nation a much-needed boost than to pick up the victory. The Gambia marked their presence in the continental showpiece with an emphatic one-nil win over Mauritania as Abdoulie Jallow became the first Gambian player to score in the AFCON when he fired home an astonishing strike. This was the turning point for a once demoralised side.Boring but justified strategyAfter reaching the round of 16, Gambia's coach Tom Saintfiet may claim his boring tactical approaches to the games, a justified strategy, despite the criticisms, hence the Belgian stayed resolute on his approaches.Under Tom, gone are the days when the Gambia played dazzling football, adored by the games true romantics, only to realise that it leads to nothing but failed campaigns. For Tom, results mean everything and winning ugly is not considered a shame.For the Belgian, focus has become the new magic word in the Gambia's camp.Focus on the approach, focus on the opponents, focus on your own performance, focus on the ultimate goal (safety first), focus on the forthcoming game.Since his appointment in 2018, Tom told his disciples that they were on a mission. The journeyman was clear about what he wanted from his players. In return, he gave the players his full confidence, even when they were out of form as in the case of players without clubs but still included in the squad.Tom was not willing to sell out his defensive approach for any critic, he applied it and earned a one-all draw against Mali in the second game. Even before the final group games were played, the Gambia was already confirmed to have qualified for the Round of 16. Yet, Tom appeared as if he doesn't have it his way, he put his defensive tactics into practice against Tunisia and earned a one-nil win to finish level on points with Mali who top the group on goal difference. This was perhaps the most shocking moment for Tunisia, losing or finishing behind not only debutants but one of the 12 lowest-ranked nations. The Scorpions sails through to the Round of 16.The unthinkable unfoldsProgressing beyond the group phase was not just surprising but shocking to the continent, and beating Guinea in the round of 16 was unthinkable, but it unfolds before the sights of the footballing world and caught even the most ardent of support by surprise.That was the Gambia's sweetest victory not because it came at the Round of 16, but because it was the first time we saw the Gambia attacked with verve and precision. At halftime, the possession was 50 - 50 and in the second half, the Gambia gained 2% ahead of their opponents (52 - 48). The brilliant lone goal scored by Bologna's forward Musa Barrow was just a glimpse of the Gambia's attacking prowess, but the Belgian will never revert to playing attacking football as he had his journey ended at the next stage.End of the journeyTom and his tactics were all at sea against the host nation Cameroon in the quarterfinals, the Gambia were largely bystanders, uncharacteristically pedestrian from start to finish all as a result of poor tactical approach.Tom decided to start with two natural half-backs at either side of the defence, added to that, two centre backs and two deep-lying midfielders. This was purely a safety formation.The inexplicable tactics gave Cameroon players the space to move in a triangle in a way that had the Gambia in confusion and greatly reduced their chance of launching counterattacks. At halftime, it was all square and Tom have it his way as he said his game plan was 'not to concede in the first half.'Tom was already bewildered by Cameroon's high pressing game, he has no idea as to how to contain the host in the second half.After surviving a string of early Cameroonian incursions, the Gambia had their lines breached when Karl Toko Ekambia nodded home on the 50th minutes, before adding another one later in the game to draw an end to the Gambia's fairytale campaign.For an underachieving coach like Tom, this was the greatest achievement of his career but many criticised the Gambia for turning the beautiful game on its head.Former Nigeria captain Jay-Jay Okocha said this about the Gambia:"In terms of the level of play, the Gambia has been the worst team in AFCON, I hope they try to play than sit and defend.""It was only about Cameroon, you almost ask how did the Gambia make the quarterfinals with this performance."Senegal and Liverpool forward Sadio Mané also said to the Gambia team "have the courage to play, don't be scared in football there is no big team or small team, it is 11 men vs 11 men."For players so accustomed to beautiful football, playing ugly is always a pain in the heart. Who will blame Okocha and Mané for the comments!The Positives & NegativesSo long there's so much to brag about in this AFCON, there are equally loop holes as well. But first, the players put in so much effort to get the Gambia on the good side of history. Gambia's name has hit another height. This brought along reputation and respect for the country's players at the continental stage.A country under the heels of heated political campaign and elections were nothing but divided. Gambia's participation and performance in the AFCON create that much-needed reunion.In the business sector, it created markets. Thousands of Gambia's replica jerseys were sold out, added to, banners and flags. Recent reports revealed that the Gambia's shirts sold out during the AFCON period is as many times more than the past three decades.And how about the social media users, they used the videos and pictures of the Scorpions to increase their page likes, views and comments. Anytime a picture of the Scorpions is posted, it attracts greater attention.The players as well benefited during the campaign, as small as it may look, each player received a bonus that amounts to D700, 000 and the players are still promised ten thousand dollars each. All combined, that's a great earning for average earners like the Scorpions players within a short period.The unfortunates nearly overshadowed the Scorpions historic campaign with the whole drama starting with the 'Steve saga'. The country's most popular player going into the AFCON fall out with the coach and decided to abandon the team and returned to his club in the UAE. Even when both the federation and the player himself tried to sit on the information, sources within the camp revealed that the player left due to frustrations as he was unused in the country's first two games.As if that was not enough talking point, the team got stranded in Cameroon for a day after their exit. This triggered widespread condemnation as some players took to social media to lash at the Federation for being "selfish". "All they are saying is not true, they are only here for their pockets," one of the players said. But, the National Coordinating Committee say the delay was a result of a breach of contract by the Airline company.Some players could not stand it as they pay for their tickets to return to their various clubs.This was a major setback, as the planned 'hero's welcome' the thousands of Gambians were willing to accord the team was all cancelled. Instead of returning as heroes, the team returned as any ordinary passenger.Now that the AFCON is done and dusted, the onus lies on the Federation, the Government and the players to ensure the team qualify for the 2023 AFCON and the 2026 World Cup. Can they achieve that?.

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President Barrow wraps meetings in URR

The President H.E Adama Barrow wrapped up his Meet the People Tour in the Upper River Region with a meeting in Koli Bantang in Wuli West, which was also attended by constituents from Wuli East and Sandu.Issues surrounding agriculture,  road infrastructure,  electricity and horticulture dominated the agenda with speakers calling on government to increase investments to help local communities. The Lady councillor Fatoumata Saho led the chorus, commending the President for the numerous developments that have transformed the region. The youth representative Yorro Camara and Fansainey Barrow called for more government support to enhance agricultural production in the region,  arguing that the URR has the potential to produce enough to meet the needs of the people. As the prices of basic foodstuff increases beyond the reach of ordinary people,  Fansainey Barrow called for a radical shift to boost local production. Mbemba Jabbi also appealed to government to revise the tariff at the Samba Juma bridge as the toll is deemed too high for local drivers, and commuters who now use boats to cross the river.Chief Momodou Bah of Wuli West expressed gratitude to the President for what he called his commendable response to current coat of living crisis, which he attributed to external factors, urging Gambians to turn these challenges into opportunities.The Governor of the Upper River Region Samba Bah said his region has seen unprecedented developments under President Barrow, urging people to nurture the prevailing peace and stability. The Governor said several rural communities in the region have benefitted from the NAFAA cash transfer initiative designed to reduce poverty amongst farmers, whilst also revealing plans to construct a regional hospital in Giroba Kunda.The Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure Ebrima Sillah said the next five years will be momentous for the URR as studies have already been completed for the construction of half a dozen feeder roads across the region. He road projects, the Minister added will be funded from the national budget in line with the President's development agenda which priorities infrastructure as the engine of economic growth. The Minister of Regional Government and Lands Abba Sanyang expressed concern with the indiscriminate dumping of waste in public places, adding that government is exploring possibilities of re-introducing the monthly cleansing exercises across the country.  The Lands Minister also urged local communities to resolve land related disputes peacefully, as these conflicts could upend the existing peace and stability in the country.The President H.E Adama Barrow closed the meeting, commending the people of Wuli and Sandu for the impressive turnout.  The President harped on the importance of dialogue in fostering understanding amongst people,  describing the tour ad an important platform for exchange of views on national development. The President said his government has laid a robust foundation for socio-economic and infrastructural development,  adding that the next five years will usher in more opportunities for citizens. With the groundnut trade season beginning on December 1st, President Barrow announced that government has increased the price of a ton from D28000 to D3200, to help farmers. Speaking about the current economic situation,  President Barrow blamed the covid19 pandemic for disrupting supply chains across the world leading to a rise in prices of basic commodities,  but reassured that government has taken adequate steps to stabilise prices. Responding to appeals for more electricity access, President Barrow revealed that more than 200 villages will get electricity in URR.The President also addressed concerns raised by some speakers about the recent introduction of a toll at the Samba Juma bridge,  saying the fee is justified to enable government raise funds for the upkeep of the bridge. The construction of the bridge,  President Barrow added has made life easier for residents as it is safer, quicker and cheaper compared to the boats. He therefore advised communities to take ownership of the bridge and shun detractors who are bent on inciting people against the government, using social media as part of a wider political campaign. The President concluded by reassuring people that the funds generated will be used for development purposes to serve the welfare of Gambians.The tour continues in the CRR with planned meetings in Jarreng and Bansang.

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President Barrow promises to construct more roads in the Upper river region

President Adama Barrow has promised to construct more roads and bring electricity to communities in Tumana, kantora, Basse and Jimara constituencies by 2025. This he said will cover over 95 percent of the communities in the area.  He made the promise at meetings in Chamoi in the Tumana District and his home town of Makamang Kunda in Jimara in response to numerous requests for more roads and electricity. President Barrow returned Gratitude to the people for renewing his mandate as president. He highlighted numerous developments made by his administration in education, health, agriculture and  infrastructure amongst other sectors of the economy. President Barrow added that over 45 communities in Tumana and over 30 communities in kantora  as well as dozens of others in Basse and Jimara constituencies will be electrified by 2025.  The Gambian Leader called on the people to embrace agriculture particularly rice production for  food and nutrition security. This he said is the best way to ensure food self sufficiency amid global economic crisis. President Barrow disclosed that his government had secured funds to invest in agricultural inputs and the purchase of groundnuts. He assured farmers that there will no credit buying of their nuts this season. In addition to the distribution of cereal and vegetable seeds his government he added will construct several gardens in some communities in the Upper River Region.The president also handed over a cheque for over 1.7  million dalasi to the women earmarked for 18 women groups in Tumana and Kantora as part of the government funded women enterprise fund meant to improve women's economic status. As he embarked on his nationwide tour the President held his first ever meeting in his home town of Makamang kunda where was received by a large crowd. At various meetings, community leaders, youth and women representatives took turns to return gratitude to the President and his government for what they described as unprecedented socio-economic and infrastructural development in their respective areas. This they say include the construction of roads, bridges, schools, health facilities and improved access to electricity in rural communities. They however appealed for more feeder roads, water projects, agricultural inputs, youth empowerment and improve security among other developments.The Minister of Fisheries and water Resources Musa Drammeh disclosed that government is set to construct over twenty-eight boreholes in Upper River Region by the end of 2023. The Minister of Agriculture Demba Sabally said government will soon start the construction of a dairy plant in Basse, and small ruminants markets and abattoirs in major settlements across the Upper River Region. The Minister of Lands and Regional Government Sheriff Abba Sanyang called on Gambians to nurture peace stability and Social cohesion. Minister Sanyang warned against the abuse of natural resources such as land and forests and called on loacal authorities to ensure their protection. The tour continues with meetings in wuli and other parts of Central River Region.

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President Barrow holds meeting at Ndugu kebbeh

President Adama Barrow has said that the harsh economic conditions in the country were as a result of global economic crisis. The President made these remarks at meeting at Ndugu kebbeh as he embark on a nationwide tour. He said his government is working hard in trying to alleviate the situation. The President said his government has procured food items which were now being sold at a reduced price. He expressed gratitude to the people who recognised his government's efforts in developing the country. He told farmers that the buying price of groundnuts has been increased this year and urged farmers to sell their nuts to the Gambia. The president told the gathering that his visit was not a political campaign but to dialogue with the people.  

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A THRIVING COASTAL ECONOMY

 Gambia’s Coastal zones particularly areas in the country’s coastal south are endowed with immense natural resources shaping multiple livelihood ventures for communities and people from all over the sub region. Ecological resources especially those in the country’s vast marine ecosystems are Critical to the population with a viable natural landscape emerging as a major focus for a sustainable blue economy agenda.Kartong is, one of the busiest coastal vicinities with a stable ecological attraction, a bustling eco tourism hub and fisheries centre perfectly placed to nurture the economic environment of the coast.Settled on a narrow strip of land, kartong’s riverside is a robust economic vicinity attracting an appealing variety of ventures., most men and women here are in the fisheries business.Fisherfolk trading different products are making ends meet from massive catches, and a chunk of the supplies are bought by  women merchants in the fish business.The coastal area offers a variety of opportunities for employment and, some young men make a profit from the knitting of fishnets while readymade nets are sold to fisherfolk.Women are in the fish-smoking business, they get their fish supplies from fish trawlers and process products into smoked fish and salted dried fish which form a major part of the national diet.Women constitute a high percentage of the fish business in kartong but sometimes sales are less lucrative and women are usually left with little or no alternatives when business hits rock bottom.Fish products processed here are supplied to various fish markets or sold to women who come here to buy stocks for domestic meals.The lack of facilities amid other challenges is massively hindering the output of their business ventures as these women solely rely on fisheries to make ends meet.Women like Isatou Madeline Jarjue are engrossed in the oyster business, she and other women are making a sustainable living from the venture.This could be a dangerous venture. The sharp oyster cells have caused injuries for many women and high tides have also caused countless disasters. But some visionary projects are providing support for Isatou and her colleagues.Apart from the fish business, Eco-tourism is rapidly growing on this side of the river, the coastal zone has an incredible natural landscape giving business opportunities for tourism enthusiasts.Dodou Saidy has an established restaurant, functioning on a narrow strip of land attracting local and international visitors.The kartong halain area is rapidly growing into people’s favorite eco tourism vicinity with sumptuous seafood delights served to customers.Dodou’s restaurant attracts tourists who often visit to enjoy a serene environment and enjoy local dishes and the owner relies on catches from the river for his business but high prices and little quantity of stocks often challenge his business.Sulayman Bojang is in the cruising business guiding tourists during boat rides.The industry is taking off as kartong turns into a major tourist hotspot.The coastal residents rely on natural resources for food and income and a preserved marine  ecology means more opportunities for the communiry which is keenly protecting its resources.

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President Barrow holds meeting at Makkah Farafenni.

President Adama Barrow says his government will construct the road at Makkah Farafenni. The President made these remarks at well attended rally at Makkah Farafenni as part of his countrywide tour. He also promised to bring electricity in the area and reiterated that the harsh economic situation is as a result of global crisis. President Barrow said he will continue to work for the Gambian people even after leaving office. He told farmers that the groundnut trade season this year would be a pleasant one as the buying price has been increased by four thousand dalasis. He therefore urged farmers to sell their nuts to the Gambia government.He reminded farmers that government had subsidised fertilisers to make it easy for farmers. The President disclosed that development partners such as the world Bank would provide funds for the purchase of fertiliser for the coming farming season. He therefore encouraged farmers to increase rice cultivation to enable the country to feed itself. President Barrow also said his government is taking over the just concluded Tekki fee project and said the aim is to create employment for young people.He decried the lack of interest in vocational training institutes as unfortunate. He sighted the President's International Award training centre in Kerewan where he said the centre is struggling to attract students.

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THE RISE OF MODEST FASHION: MODEST MODELING AGENCY STAGES FIRST ISLAMIC FASHION SHOW The quest to Give modesty a viable space and representation on the runway gains strength in the

 Gambia as fashion houses move to embrace Islamic style trends.Part of the youth wave driving style trends, Modest fashion is tremendously evolving in the local fashion industry, with the first ever runway event showcasing latest hijabi designs featuring Islamic dress modes and modest fashion enthusiasts.Pioneered by young Fatima Muloshi and her modest modeling agency specialized in promoting hijabi fashion to diversify the runaway.Making it a cultural appeal and unifying platform, organisers aim to broaden Islam fashion to dispel stereotypes.The exquisite display of unique fashion pieces gives the modest niche show infinite power in the growing fashion market.The rare stage affair was graced by modest fashion influencers like Fatoumatta Ceesay, widely called Fatisha, uses online platforms to showcase her love for modest fashion.The runway is also creating a spotlight for modest apparel designers to exhibit their brands, giving them exposure to a new economic opportunity.For these young ladies, blending a little fashion in modest clothing is an opportunity to reclaim feminity. The trend is hugely altering stereotypical understanding of Muslim apparels and showpiece for all identities.Events like this underscore the new dawn in fashion industry embracing diversity and despite the hitches, the modeling agency is persistent in putting Islamic fashion on the spotlight

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