The minister of Youth and Sports, Bakary Y. Badjie on Friday laid the foundation stone of a mini-stadium worth D6,825000 (six million eight hundred and twenty-five thousand dalasis) in Kafuta village, Kombo East District, West Coast Region.
The event graced by directors, deputy permanent secretaries within the ministry and representative from The Gambia Football Federation as well as village leaders is aimed at encouraging and developing youth career dream sports within the region.
Badjie stated that the project and many of its kind are in line with government policy of decentralising sports facilities in a bit to ensure sports development at the local level.
"As a Ministry, we are committed to ensuring rural Gambia access modern sporting facilities to improve their participation at both local and international sporting competitions."
As the main government department entrusted with the principal responsibility of championing the holistic development of youth and sports sectors of the country, they are committed to work with communities in rural Gambia to initiate and fund youth empowerment and sports development projects, he highlighted.
"We believe with such initiatives, young people employability will increase, talents will be identified and developed, and sports will no longer just be for leisure but business that has the potential to change lives of athletics, their families as well as bring socio-economic development to local communities," he noted.
He added that such grassroots development will be an indisputable indicator of how far we have progressed as a sporting nation in the coming years.
The newly appointed Youth and Sports minister assured youth in Kafuta that Gambian leader Adama Barrow and the entire government remains committed to the issue of youth, adding that they will continue to make sports development a nation's priority by creating the enabling policy environment and development ventures that will advance this great country.
He finally said that the project is expected to be completed in six months' time, while also urging contractors to ensure timely completion of the work as well as deliver to them with quality.
Marcel Mendy, executive director, National Sports Council, expressed appreciation to The Gambia government for what he described as 'a wonderful project' for the people of Kafuta in Kombo East Region.
He added that the project is very much in line with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and National Sports Council sports development agenda, adding that they believe that for the country to make it to the top in terms of sports there should be an investment into sports infrastructural development.
He added that sports used to be seen only as fun but added that it is now seen as highly and mostly paid profession in the world.
"There is no profession today that is paid more than sports. If we want to stop or discourage our youth from embarking on the journey through The Mediterranean Sea, then we must build (sports) infrastructures for them to have hope to rely on and pursue their career dreams.
He encouraged everyone to involve in sports, while assuring people of bringing youth and sports development to the doorstep of all regions across the country.
According to him, they are not encouraging youth to subordinate their education for sports but instead advise them to do both at once.
"This is why at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, we introduce one programme to schools in trying to encourage youth and students to do both education and sports together".
He urged the Kafuta village and Kombo East region to take proper care of the project and as well make best use of it.
Yaya Badjie, from Bathurst Builders, described the day as very significant in the history of Bathurst Builders company, noting that the project includes the building of a standard football pitch with artificial grass and chain-link fence.
"The project also includes the building of players changing or dressing room, drilling of a borehole, toilets and perimeter fence," he said.
He, on behalf of the Bathurst Builders thanked the Ministry of Youth and Sports and The Gambia government for their trust and confident in them to assign them the project in Kafuta.
Emmanuel Correa, chairman of Kafuta Sports Association expressed delight with the project and said it will help discourage youth, not only in Kafuta, but the entire Kombo East Region from migrating to the Greater Banjul Area only for sports reasons.
"This project will also help the region and the village to be the hub for talents for the development of sports in the country. This Kafuta field is one of the most resourceful centers in the country because it is surrounded by 33 catchment villages," he said.