The coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt sporting calendars in The Gambia and in Brikama particularly, the two major sporting disciplines in the capital of the West Coast Region, i.e., football and athletics are set to be hit hardest.
Nawetan creates fanfare that erupts in towns and villages during the summer. Teams create fan clubs that drum up support to cheer neighborhood clubs during intriguing matchups in usually three-month long competitions across the nation. The forensic and melodious sounds produced by the drummers during matches, can be like that of wrestling combat.
Brikama Sports Committee (BSC) will go on with their annual summer football tournament in spite of the threat of COVID-19. Nawetan generates gigantic amount of funds which the BSC in return invests in sports teams and projects in the cosmopolitan town.
Sadly, for another year, Victor F. Jatta, the president of the Brikama Sports Committee decried that the turnout might not be as good as pre-pandemic times due to double factors; the rise of the cases in Covid-19 in The Gambia and the apparently stagnant renovation work at the town's Box bar mini-stadium by the Football Federation.
"It will affect the financial aspect that is the main source of income for Brikama Sports Committee, where we support both male and female in the first division. When you talk of Basketball, Volleyball, Cricket and Athletics I think this will definitely handicap the sports committee." Mr Jatta said.
Sarjo Sowe, the 3rd Vice President West Coast Regional Football Association lamented to Gambia Sports that, due to the surge in the number of people contracting Covid-19, there was no nawetan for youth in Brikama due to the embargo the government placed on sports and public gatherings last year.
"Well, the pandemic affected Brikama Football and Sports in general. Our football fiesta which is called the nawetan was not played because of the pandemic. Box bar is not just a football ground but a source of joy and a recreational center. Brikama lacks recreational facilities and the Box bar ground supplements such," Sarjo revealed to Gambia Sports.
He added: "Youths of Brikama are engaged in football, so if the pandemic holds it then we are nowhere close to football."
The summer football jamboree also serves as an opportunity for divisional clubs to scout players for the Gambia Football Federation leagues. Young talented players in Brikama and its satellite villages train and prepare themselves to be called up by the town's two leading divisional teams namely Brikama United Football Club and Bombada.
Despite the enviable opportunities for players to be scouted more so this year with the added incentive of Greater Tomorrow Academy's promotion to the second tier of Gambian football, some young players in Brikama and its surrounding will miss the summer football carnival due to the fear of catching the coronavirus.
One such talented player is Alieu Ceesay, Gidda Youths' diminutive midfield maestro. The youngster surprisingly, chose not to participate in this year's nawetan to the shock of many football enthusiasts in Brikama because of what he calls "the lack of adhering to the safety protocols of Covid-19".
"I went around most of the training grounds in Brikama and I can tell they are not adhering to the WHO's safety precaution guidelines," the young midfielder told Gambia Sports.
The midfield prodigy said he is not going to take part in the nawetan because he does not want to contract the virus since the number of people getting infected in The Gambia had been rapidly growing.
"The lack of adhering to the safety protocols of Covid-19 influenced my decision not to take part in the nawetan to my dislike. People are dying due to the virus, so I have to protect myself, my family and friends," he explained to Gambia Sports.
Brikama is a cosmopolitan town situated in the West Coast Region and it is the administrative capital of the largest Region of The Gambia, the West Coast Region. Cullied from Gambia Sports
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through its Mobilising Media in the Fight Against COVID-19 in partnership with Mai-Media and Gambia Sports.