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How the Coronavirus Is Affecting Sports Reporting In the Gambia

Momodou Jallow, Sports Journalist with GRTS

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress worldwide, a number of sports leagues across the world altered their schedules in response to the pandemic. The sports landscape has consequently changed significantly, from playing games behind closed doors to canceling events and putting leagues on temporary suspension.

During this difficult time, sports reporters in the Gambia are suffering from the lack of sports news due to the virus. Most of them rely on the national football leagues in order to practice their craft. During this time of unfortunate events, these journalists are losing out on the ability to cover different sports, talk to athletes in person and attend press conferences.

“The pandemic seriously affected my work for the simple fact that it has forced the cancellation of almost all sporting activities globally, “said Momodou Jallow, sports anchor with Gambia Radio and Television Services. “For us at the national broadcaster we have tried to be as much creative as possible to ensure we try to get some sports to satisfy the taste of sport enthusiasts by going after more human interests centered sport stories, Jallow tells The Chronicle.

Momodou Jallow, Sports Anchor with GRTS

Jallow’s GRTS, however, worked to become so ready for the pandemic by introducing new TV shows like ‘The Stay Fit at home’. During this show, “we teach people how to stay fit at home during the lockdown or state of public emergency mixed with sports stories that will light up the minds of the of people at home and reduce stress. But the reality it’s a difficult moment to be a sports journalists at the moment but equally it has challenged us to be more creative and to go after stories, “Jallow said.

During this time of year, the men’s national football league is entering it’s race for championship and fight to stay off the relegation zone. “I never knew life without sports is boring until this outbreak, “says Pa Barrow of Afri Radio. “Right now it is difficult for me to cope as a sport’s journalist. Barrow co-host’s a popular morning sports show in the country. He said the pandemic has made it difficult for him to effectively do his work and meet the demands of his followers. “My followers need information about their various sporting disciplines and without activities, it will be difficult to feed them with information they need at this trying time.”

Pa Barrow, Afri Radio

Sally Jeng is a sports editor with Paradise TV. She’s struggling for content to work with now. She normally presents sports on TV from Monday-Friday, but due to the pandemic, Jeng now presents sports 3 times in a week spending the rest of the days at home, toying with how to come up with as much creative and fresh content as she can. “It has been extremely difficult with me, “Sally tells The Chronicle. “Most of our sports shows are suspended because we don’t have events to cover. Working only three days a week is so boring.”

Sally Jeng, Sports Editor Paradise TV

Meanwhile, 2020 could have been another gratifying year for sports reporters like Muhammed L Saidykhan. The young reporter was supposed to be in Japan for the Olympic Games, but due to the pandemic, he has to wait one year ahead.  “I am lined-up for many sporting events to cover, most importantly the Olympics, which is a dream for sport journalist to cover but it is I have to wait one year ahead, “Saidykhan said.

Recently, the 2020 Tokyo was placed on hold after the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government agreed to postpone the Summer Games until sometime next year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

For the first time in modern Olympic history, a global health issue has suspended the Games.

This has left the Gambian volleyball family in disappointment as most of them believe the break dampens the spirit of the team. “I will say it kills the spirit of our beach volleyball team that is on the verge of making history to the quality to the Tokyo Games, “Saidykhan tells The Chronicle. “We were at the penultimate end of wrapping up the qualifiers, and Gambia was ranked top in Africa as favorite to win the sole ticket for beach volleyball.”

Muhammed L Saidykhan

Well, despite the postponement of all these games or leagues, Momodou Bah, BBC and CAF stringer in Banjul said this is an opportunity for sports journalists to expand their horizons and be more creative. “The sports media has suffered the brunt of the covid-19 pandemic as there are no sporting activities to report, “he said. For freelance journalists like myself, I’m trying to make sure we continue to have commissions but it’s not easy compared to pre-covid-19.”

Momodou Bah, BBC and CAF Stringer in Banjul

However, the answer as to when sports and regular life will intertwine again remain a mystery.

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