Gambia’s Goodwill Sports Ambassador, Tijan Jaiteh in partnership with the American Embassy in Banjul is sending 13 Gambian coaches from both female and male division leagues as well as some ex-professional players to the United States of America for a two weeks coaching course.
The training programme is scheduled to take place between the 7th and 21st of January 2023. It will gather 42 coaches from The Gambia, Tanzania and Malaysia respectively.
The project is part of the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy exchange programmes. The training programme will also give participants the opportunity to visit Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Miami and Florida during their training programme.
The coaches will aim to develop knowledge and skills in using sports as a means to teach social skills, mentorship and life skill development.
The Gambian coaches that are selected and due to leave for the programme on Thursday are Choro Mbenga-Nyassi, Ousman Jallow, Awa Sowe, Fatou Darboe, Fatou S. Marena, Isatou Saidykhan, Jabou Joof, Abdoulie Sohna, Mariama ‘Boom’ Sowe, Momodou Ceesay (Zico), Baboucarr Jatta, Ebrima Jobe and Tijan Jaiteh respectively.
“Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by FHI 360, the Sports Visitor Programme brings non-elite youth athletes, coaches and administrators to the United States for a fast-paced short-term sports cultural exchange with American peers and sports practitioners,” said U.S ambassador to The Gambia, Sharon L. Cromer.
She added that the delegation will attend the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia and will also participate in training and workshops about leadership, trauma-informed care and healing and mental health throughout their exchange.
“The U.S. Department of State Sports Visitor Programme creates a network of leaders around the world who have firsthand experience and understanding of U.S. culture, society, and values, through exploring America’s athletic landscape – from community-based programmes to professional sports.”
Musa Mbye, the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, said the programme is in line with his ministry’s policy objectives, noting that sports continue to play a cardinal role in promoting the health and general well-being of the population.
“Despite the efforts undertaken by MoYS to develop and promote sports in The Gambia, the sector continues to be shadowed with several challenges which slow down its growth in line with the aspiration of the ministry,” he said.
According to him, some of the challenges faced by the ministry include lack of coaches for major sporting disciplines, adding that major sporting disciplines continue to be affected by the lack of seasoned and qualified coaches to provide the right training and technical advice.
He commended Sports Ambassador Tijan Jaiteh, whom he said since his appointment in 2020 has been working and engaging their ministry for the development of Gambian sports.
Tijan Jaiteh, the Sports Goodwill Ambassador of The Gambia described the project as very important for not only Gambian coaches but sports in general.
“I want the first batch of coaches for this project to take this project as theirs. This is not only about you but for the entire Gambia that you will be presenting in America,” he told travelling coaches.
According to him, the project can be greater if the first batch of 13 coaches successfully attended the program and return back to the country.
“We are now the first batch to be going to the U.S for this first training programme. I want us to take this programme very seriously and also come and share the knowledge with our colleagues at home,” he stated.
He thanked the U.S. Embassy in Banjul for partnering with him to develop the capacity of Gambian coaches.
Meanwhile, the group will start the programme in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in partnership with the United Soccer Coaches Convention, where they will have the opportunity to attend multiple workshops and classes over the span of four days.
Their training will focus on a variety of subjects including mental wellness, cultivating inclusive cultures on a team, emotional consciousness, and how to build and sustain meaningful coach-athlete relationships.