|St. Augustine Secondary School, Banjul (Pix: St. Augustine)|
The ban on Secondary schools sports in the Gambia has been lifted by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) after 10 months.
The Gambia Government imposed a ban on one of the country’s biggest schools sporting competition following a bloody fracas between Armitage and Bansang Senior Secondary schools on February 12, 2011 during an “Inter School Zonal Athletic Championship” at Jangjangbureh, in the Central River Region (CRR).
The dispute erupted amidst allegations of “impartiality by sporting officials”.
Many students sustained injuries and hospitalised. Personnel of the police intervention unit (PIU) intervened using tear gas to quell the situation, but it doesn’t stop the smashing of window glasses of vehicles, the Armitage school library, the assembly hall and the Vice Principal’s quarters.
It resulted in the arrest and detention of fourteen people among them students, but none was charged to court.
Lifting the ban early this month (December 2011), MoBSE set up National and local Organising Committees to take charge of the overall organisation and coordination of all secondary schools sporting competitions ahead of this season’s inter school and zonal competitions.
The National Committee comprises of the Ministry of Youths and Sports, the Association of Secondary Schools’ Sports, and Sports Journalists’ Association while the Local Committees comprises of all regional sports coordinators and at least one representative from the Regional Education Directorates, regional governors, district chiefs, sporting associations and National Patriotic Students’ Association among others.
The setting up of the committees is aimed at maintaining good organisation, fair play and better performance, said Cherno Barra Touray, Chairperson of the National Organising Committee for Secondary Schools Sports in an address to Regional Organising Committees.
|St. Augustine has clash with neighbours Gambia High in the past Championships (pix: St. Augustine)|
He noted that the committee will inculcate the principle of fair play and respect for rules and regulations of sports in students at the grassroots. “This is because successful national competition depends on successful local competitions,” he said.
This move is to place a more applicable and security conscious measures in the organisation of schools sports, Martin Gomez, President of Gambia Secondary Schools Sports Association said. “The idea will also eradicate completely the influence of teachers in inter-schools competition with a view to ensure fair play in schools’ sports”.
Fighting between schools during national or zonal athletic championships has been a major security concern for many years, sometimes claiming lives.
Author: Modou S. Joof
The author is a Gambian journalist, News Editor of The Voice Newspaper in Banjul and Publisher of The North Bank Evening Standard.
He twits (@Msjoof)