A large number flag-waving fans Thursday night gathered at the Banjul International Airport to give a hero’s welcome to the national men’s volleyball team as they arrived home after winning gold at the 2019 African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
On Wednesday, the team grabbed the headlines with an impressive performance against host Morocco, beating them 2-1 to win its first gold medal at African Games.
Volleyball fans lined up at the airport, cheering as the team made their way through an open-top bus. “I am so proud today as a Gambian,” said Ousman Drammeh, one of the fans at the airport. “The team has made the entire country proud and they deserve to be supported.”
For Modou Lamin Gaye, another fan, the team should be maintained and also supported. “The authorities should make sure they support and keep this team. Volleyball has given us joy that football or even basketball couldn’t give us. So we must give our support to this team.”
The Gambia got off the championship on a flying note, edging out defending African Champions Mozambique 2-0 before seeing-off Rwanda in the semifinals.
“We did what was expected of us,” said the team’s captain Sainey Jawo.
“It was a great pride for me to only represent my country, much more winning gold, he tells The Chronicle. This is a dream come true. I’ve always dreamt of being part of a Gambian team that would give gold medal to this country.”
Pa Abubacarr Barrow is the first Gambian Volleyball coach to win gold medal. In 2018, he guided the team to a bronze medal at the African Youth Games and also qualified the team to the youth Olympics in Argentina.
“I am honored and proud,” emotional Barrow told The Chronicle. “This is a monumental feat for me and the team. We worked so hard for this achievement with the support of the national volleyball federation,” he said.
“We at the National Sports Council are not surprise with Volleyball’s achievement, said Marcel Mendy, the Executive Director of the National Sports Council. “Volleyball has been doing so well both locally and at continental level. We hope they’ll continue the momentum,” Mendy said.