By Lamin Drammeh
Gambian international referee Bakary Papa Gassama is among several other high profile sports personalities decorated with awards by Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia (SJAG) over the weekend.
The 37 year-old referee, Gassama unquestionably the highest peofile sportsman in the country in terms of individual performance and achievement was handpicked for the sports personality of the year award by the SJAG.
Another Gambian referee Mawdo Jallow, a close friend to Gassama, has retained the local male referee of the year award after winning it in 2016.
This is not the first time Gassama got considered for the award by The Sports Journalists Association of The Gambia (SJAG), having received special SJAG award in 2012.
The award is meant to honor the achievements of past and present sports men and women for their outstanding contribution to the development/promotion of sports in the Gambia over the past 12 months.
Below we produce the list of other awardees from different categories:
Best local athlete: Adama Jammeh, Best foreign athlete: Omar Colley: Female volleyball team goes to GAF, Best local coach went to Alagie Sarr, Best local male referee goes to Mawdo Jallow, Best local female referee was awarded to Jainaba Manneh, Gina Bass, was named best local female athlete, Emerging talent award was given to Gambia national beach volleyball team, while Demba Jarju of Para Olympic and Bakary Gassama received sports personality of the year and special awards respectively.
Gassama nicknamed ‘Papa’ has been the most outstanding referee in Africa over the last couple of years. He has won three (TRIPPLE) consecutive awards by the confederation of African football (CAF), in 2014, 2015 & 2016.
He was also designated “person of the year award in 2015”, by the Gambia News & Report in recognition of his outstanding performance during the 2014 Fifa world cup finals in Brazil, the highest football tournament any referee can reach.
The iconic referee Gassama first contested for the Caf African referee of the year award in 2013.
He made history when he became one of the three African referees selected by Fifa to officiate in the 2014 world cup in Brazil. He was in charge of the third game of group D fixtures of the 2014 World cup match between Netherlands and Chile.
Papa who became Fifa referee in 2007, officiated at 2012 London Olympic games.
He was in charge of the 2015 Caf African Nations Cup final between Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Ivory Coast won the tournament in a dramatic 9-8 penalty shootout following a bitterly fough goal less draw at the end of extra time.
The industrious referee Papa became the first Gambian referee to compete for the caf Africa’s top refereeing award. He’s by far the best referee in the continent and undoubtedly one of the best in the world.