13 October 2017

Gambia: I Paid €2000 for a Boat to Be Taken to Italy - Says Gambian Footballer

Success comes not without arduous toiling. Third tier Italian side Feralpi Salo Gambian attacker's journey to professional football hasn't been an easy ride.

Leaving without his parent's knowledge - aware he'll be stopped in his tracks should they get a hint - Lamin Jawo left his home as a 15-year-old to pursue his long term ambition of turning professional.

His journey took him to countries he'd never before ventured in. Trawling through the borders of Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, the youngster then touched down in Libya.

Needing cash to fund his precarious trip, he worked for two years in Tripoli to raise €2000 with which to pay for a boat to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

'I paid 2000 euros to get on the boat. I got strength because I knew beyond those waves, I could embrace my future. I was looking for it in football, clinging to that hope. I had no choice but to help my family,' Lamin Jawo now 22, says in a latest in-depth interview on his journey. Panic soon set in, in the middle of the ocean when the ballooned boat began deflating, creating a tiny hole as water flapped in. Lamin and other occupants threw off some of their luggage to keep the boat afloat.

The then teenager and hundred other migrants were placed in a tiny makeshift apartment upon landing, where he would later admit, he secretly hid a football for practice against the owner's orders.

Fed up, the complex's manager took him to a lower division team based in Cagliari where he impressed but his refugee status will stand in the way of being offered a deal.

A robust legal battle by his attorneys Giambattista Alimonda and lawyer Philip Pirisi, earned him status of a regularized refugee, opening the path to transfers to amateur clubs Vado and FC Finale Ligure where he scored twenty-two goals to attract the attention of second division Italian club Carpi.

'When you have an important ambition, you also accept the risk and challenges. You have to have the courage to dare. I did it. Then I was lucky, but good luck must be sought,' he tells Italian publication II Giorno.

He described the feeling of safely landing after a nightmarish sea journey as 'indescribable' in a previous interview with Foroyaa Sport early this year.

The striker is currently on loan at third tier side FeralpiSalo whom he'd featured for in all four games so far.


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