Mission89 and SJAG partnership shakes the Gambia

Mission89 and SJAG partnership shakes the Gambia

Media Run Against Trafficking in Sport in The Gambia: Mission89 and SJAG partnership shakes nation

Mission 89 in collaboration with the Sport Journalists Association of the Gambia (SJAG) on Saturday 16th January, organised an 8-kilometre Media Run Against Trafficking in Sport in The Gambia. The event, which started and ended at the Traffic Lights in Banjul, attracted over 200 people from diverse sectors of society. The President of SJAG, Musa Sise, serving as event MC, read a statement on behalf of Mission89. He thanked Mission 89 for the partnership and emphasised the need for the media to be at the forefront of the challenges in sport, such as human trafficking.

Addressing the participants before the warm-up, the Minister for Youth and Sport, Mr. Bakary Badjie praised Mission 89 and SJAG for the first of its kind awareness raising campaign, commending the impressive turn-out. Mr. Badjie said, “we were not even thinking about human trafficking in sport, we were thinking about human trafficking in other areas”. He emphasised that Mission 89 and SJAG has stimulated government through the Ministry to take up the issue with other stakeholders in the sport sector, at other levels, to prevent young Gambians from falling prey of trafficking in sport.
Minister for Youth and Sport of the Gambia, Bakary Badjie being interviewed during the run.
Minister for Youth and Sport of the Gambia, Bakary Badjie being interviewed during the run.

Diverse voices of stakeholders
The Run attracted a large turn-out of enthusiastic key stakeholders from the public and private sectors. Participants came from a wide range of institutions such as the National Agency Against Trafficking in Person, the Gambia Immigration Department, International Organization for Migration country office, African Legal Charter, the National Youth Council, National Sports Council, the Gambia Football federation, among others. Other participants included the Walk for Health team, members of the local media and SJAG executives, Businessmen, and Diaspora Gambians. Banka Manneh, a prominent online platform host on holidays from the USA expressed his enthusiasm on joining the campaign. “I had seen the pictures on facebook and I said, I want to be part of this to sensitise and educate our population on this issue!”

Participants who took part in the run came from diverse sectors of the society to show support to what is considered an innovative idea initiated by Mission89 and the SJAG partnership.

Breaking the silence
According to participants, the event inspires better understanding and discussions into the topic as related to the local set up and understanding. “Trafficking in sport is luring someone into something they don’t know” added a former youth coach and journalist trainer Sang Mendy. Adding, “it is important to sensitise the young ones and the parents. Most of the parents are not aware of the danger their children could be going through and it is important to sensitise these people too”. He continued, “most parents are really involved in the football trials of their children but little are they aware of the existence of fake agents and individuals who disguised on the promise of helping to get the breakthrough”. The event also serves as a wake-up call for the sport sector to scrutinise its means to strengthen the sports structures and make it economically viable for young athletes to participate. The Communications Officer of the Gambia Football Federation, Baboucarr Camara highlighted that as the custodians of football in the country, more work needed to be done with clubs in this respect to ensure that agents coming into the country are scrutinised.

In his closing remarks the President of the SJAG, emphasised that the intention is not just to organise the event and stop there, but for other organizations and individuals to take up the issue from Mission 89 and SJAG collaboration in order to stop the menace in the country.

The Executive Director of the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP), Tulia Jawara and the President of the Sport Journalists Association (SJAG), Musa Sise.

The first step into the country-strategy
The Media Run is the first of a series of events Mission 89 lined-up to raise awareness in collaboration with the sports press in the West African country with over 2 million inhabitants. Other events planned include a virtual roundtable to take place on 21st January at 16h00 GMT, a training programme for sport journalists on human trafficking in sport, among others.

The Gambia has become a hub for sex trafficking, child labour and illegal migration. In 2016, a first division club in the national football league, Banjul United, lost 25 of its players through illegal migration in the Mediterranean sea. A national wrestler Ali Mbengu (Mil Franc) and national female footballer Fatim Jawara both lost their lives at sea trying to cross to Europe.

Watch the Media Run here.

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