By Sulayman Bah
Gambia accounts for the second largest number of economic migrants some of them footballers in Europe, according to a recent International Organisation for Migration’s study.
But Banjul United’s manager Ebou Faye believes the syndrome of footballers resorting to the perilous journey by boat could be put to a check if the Gambia First Division league is professionalized.
This, including creating employment for youths, Faye thinks, is the sole way to dissuade the proliferation of footballers taking the precarious Back Way journey as way out of poverty’s clutches.
‘The only thing is create more employment; create opportunities for the youths. Professionalise the sport so that people can benefit from it. Apart from that, it’s difficult to see a way out,’ Ebou says.
‘Our league is an amateur league. Everyone knows what’s an amateur league. Unless we professionalize our league, the chances for the players to be staying are very, very slim. They (scouts) normally go for professionals, even with that too, teams don’t benefit anything.
‘We only have one player that passed away (through the Back Way). He was a former player who played in the team at least three or four years ago. It was very bad because is someone we know. All of us felt it,’ Faye, doubling as Independence Stadium manager, himself an erstwhile player, moans.
Banjul United is not the sole club beset by the trouble of its star footballers taking the arduous boat trip with Wallidan also plagued by a similar occurrence. However, the former are known to be the most affected – a drawback of which triggered the team’s demotion to the second division.