Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September 2017 witnessed a fantastic fun filled weekend get–together in Leeds United Kingdom where Gambians of all works of life got together with other migrant communities. The events kicked off with a football tournament amongst the migrant communities of the Gambia, Somalia, Sudan and the northeastern African country of Eritrea on Saturday the 2nd. This was followed by a grand barbecue and a football match on Sunday the 3rd of September 2017.
In opening the tournament on Saturday, Leeds City councillor of Burmantofts and Richmond Hill ward, Cllr Asghar Khan commended the organisers of the tournament and encouraged fair play. He also urged the communities to denounce violence against women especially the
menace of grooming of vulnerable girls that is tearing communities apart. He advised the communities present to go back to their communities and spread the word of peace, love and good neighborliness.
The teams that took part were the Gambia, Sudan, Somalia team 1 and 2 and Eritrea team 1 and 2. The tournament ended with the Gambia being knocked out by Eritrea team 1 on the second round with an unfortunate goal scored by accident. Somalia team 1 emerged the winners of the trophy with Eritrea team 2 ending the tourney at second place. The Gambia was however awarded a medal for “Fair Play”; characteristic of Gambians around the world.
Collecting the medal on behalf of the Gambian team, the team captain, Sanna Samateh had this to say: “This is a great day and it gives me the honor and pleasure to collect this medal on behalf of the team”.
The events continued on Sunday the 3rd of September with a grand barbecue and a football match amongst Gambians, organized by The Gambia Welfare Society in Leeds. This event showed Gambians from all tribes and regions; Greater Banjul, West Coast, LRR, NBR, CRR
and URR, showcasing their talents and skills.
Speaking at the event, the chairperson of the Gambia Welfare Society, Bampha Jaiteh, said that the matches were not about winning and scoring goals but rather promoting community cohesion and brotherhood amongst Gambians living in Leeds.
He regretted that the programs did not include our womenfolk but hoped that future events will cater for our wonderful ladies. When questioned on the achievements of the society since its inception over ten years ago, he had this to say: “The Society’s achievements are multifaceted and numerous, but a synopsis of the achievements are, organisation and arrangements of venues for Eid prayers so that we as Gambians can pray together and seek each other’s forgiveness, organisation of weekly football matches for children aged between 9 and 17. This is to ensure that we inculcate good citizenship and behavior in our children and to also keep them off the streets and from bad influences.
Other achievements include the organisation of annual Quranic recitation and Gaamo during Ramadan, the financing of repatriation cost of deceased Gambians in Leeds to name a few.
“To be honest, I cannot name all the achievements but I am proud to say that this society is here for all Gambians regardless of tribe, dialect or political inclination and affiliation”. Bampha added
Another executive member, Sheriffo Sawo expressed delight that at last, we found a “winning formula”. This he said is what has been lacking for over ten years since the Gambia Welfare Society has been formed. He urged Gambians to continue lending a hand to the society and take up voluntary executive positions. Other speakers at the barbecue expressed
similar sentiments and urged every Gambian in Leeds to commit to the society for the welfare of all Gambians in Leeds.
After eating meat like they have never seen before, the Baddibunkas could hardly walk back to their cars and it was agreed that football sessions will be organized weekly, on Saturdays for children and Sundays for adults with barbecue and football match on the last Sunday of each month.
By Nuha Ceesay