By Lamin Jahateh, Banjul
Guaranty Trust Bank, a leading bank in The Gambia, has earmarked D4 million for ‘Gambia for Gold’, which is an initiative of the Gambia government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports to mobilize funding for the country’s national football teams.
GTBank has committed itself to giving one million dalasis to ‘Gambia for Gold’ each year, starting from 2011, for the period of four years. This agreement was sealed on Friday at a signing ceremony held at the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Banjul.
Pic: GTBank MD, Olalekan Sanusi, Signing the Agreement
“One million dalasis every year is our pledge and that is the contract we have signed today. We have already factored it into our budget and we have committed one million dalasis every year in support of football in the country,” GTBank’s Managing Director Olalekan Sanusi said.
“We want to make it clear that doing this does not mean it’s the best we can do; we will still continue to look for opportunities and ways through which we will continue to support sports, football in particular, for the interest of all of us.”
He continued: “Today we are making history. I remember my professor tell me that there are so many categories of people in life: there are people who make history, there are people who watch history being made, and there are people who join as history is being made. We are fortunate to be the set of people to make history in Gambian sports, particularly football.”
One thing that is very essential in sports is financing, MD Sanusi avers, saying that his bank that has served the Gambia Football Association (GFA), they would never sit by and see the FA in need and refuse to give them a helping hand.
“So when this initiative was launched, we say we will be part of the history that Gambia for Gold is making and coincidentally we owe the responsibility to The Gambia,” the GTBank MD said. “We have been in operation for about nine years now and this year we will be in our ten years of operation in The Gambia; so we were saying that as part of our ten-year celebration we must launch a major thing for the society. So when this opportunity came it was extremely timely and we are happy that it was the authorities themselves that have created such initiative; so we as an institution have just joined the bus as way to mark our own ten years of operation in The Gambia.”
The Gambian society has been very supportive of GTBank as they continue to patronize the bank. “As we speak today GTBank is the third largest bank in The Gambia. We owe that to the Gambian people, who have developed confidence in us, because to patronise a bank there must be confidence that you have in the bank,” Mr Sanusi said. “The people have developed confidence in us and have given us the patronage. Although we have been sponsoring a number of other programmes, we think it’s high time to give something significant to the society, and fortunately we have chosen something that is very dearly to the heart of every Gambian - football is such an important sport that we all love very dearly and I will implore all Gambians, both individuals and institutions, to rise at this occasion and we all come to the rescue of football.”
Apart from the bank’s D4 million commitment, the GTBank MD revealed, the bank has opened an account for ‘Gambia for Gold’.
GTBank runs a network called Online Real Time, which means anywhere you are in The Gambia - whether in Basse, Farafenni or Brikama - you can pay money into this account and it will be credited directly into the account of ‘Gambia for Gold’.
MD Sanusi said: “The account number is 202153665110, and what we intend to do is that in all our banking halls we are going to display this account number so that for every individual who comes to the bank, we are going to encourage them to put something into this account. Your five dalasis you put into this account will go a long a way in the support of football in the country.”
Minister of Youth and Sports Sheriff Gomez, in his remarks, said his ministry is striving to mobilise resources to make sure the Gambia’s national football teams are unhindered in their preparations for international competitions.
“We may not get everything we need at the right time but I think what is important is that the whole country should realize that this effort must get us all to start by now what becomes our contribution towards this endeavour,” Hon. Gomez said.
He continued: “The coach understands that he has to prepare the team so that they can play the ball and win; the GFA knows they have to do the technical preparations; the ministry knows it is their job to raise funds for the national teams, and Gambians and non-Gambians in The Gambia know their part, which is to make sure that we contribute to the funding and resource mobilization for the teams.
“We are appealing for everybody to come together to put in the resources. Now is the time to put in our resources; when it comes to the marches we put our moral support.”
Tombong Saidy, Chairperson of ‘Gambia for Gold’, for his part , said that even before GTBank came as the banking partner of ‘Gambia for Gold’, the bank was doing a lot in supporting sports in the country.
“GTBank has been helping football in this country; so it is befitting that they have come on board as a bank partner for Gambia for Gold, and we really appreciate it, and we applaud their efforts.”
He added: “GTBank will give us 4 million in four years, meaning every year they will give us one million and every quarter they will give us quarter of a million before the period ends. So we are guaranteed that money will be coming in steadily.”
Mr Saidy, in conclusion, appeals to the nation, saying: “Once again and I am appealing to the public to come forward and support ‘Gambia for Gold’, because we need to raise between D32 to D64 million in the next four years so that we can finance the national teams, especially the senior team.”