By Landing Ceesay
The President of the Gambia Secondary School Sports Association (GSSSA), Mr. Ismaila Ceesay said they have “zero tolerance” for cheating and would fight to end it in school competitions.
“Last year, we came up with an electric broom where we were able to wipe as many schools as possible. 21 schools were banned from participating in our championship as a result of cheating. Because we have taken a zero stance on cheating and vowed that we are going to ensure that cheating ends in secondary school sports activities in all domains. Be it athletics, be it football, or all other domains that we are partaking in. We vowed to ensure that cheating stops,” Ceesay told the media.
Mr. Ceesay said last year, some schools used athletes who have already graduated or sat their WASSCE exams.
The GSSSA President further stated that they come up with the idea of banning schools for cheating because they don’t want to disadvantage the young rising athletes that are coming up from schools.
Mr. Ceesay said his institution wants to ensure that they give the upcoming young athletes the opportunity, and the right forum for them to showcase their talents.
“If we allow these old ones to be recycled in the system from one school to the other, some Students will never graduate. Others will always be there and they will have brighter and smartest hidden talents that will not be able to discover. The essence of our competition is to bring out new talents year in, and year out. So that the Gambia will have the best of talents that can always be out there with the right ages that can at least represent the country in international fora.
“And we ensure to come up with rules and regulations that will guide the competition. We don’t disadvantage any schools. Because am from a school. My secretary General and Vice President are also from schools, and all the executive members are from schools. Because this is a secondary school sports association,” he said.
The GSSSA President further told the Journalists that his executive members are all representatives from various schools, but they make sure that they remain neutral.
Mr. Ceesay asserted that his executive members make sure that they are not biased when it comes to dealing with schools, and when it comes to applying the principles and ethics of their organization.
He said that is why they don’t hesitate to take action against any school that is found wanting.
Mr. Ceesay said last year when they banned 21 schools, they also started following them, investigating them one by one.
He said they did not come out to the public because some cheatings are incriminatory and that they don’t want to incriminate any school.
“We don’t want police to go after any school or after any athlete or administration over there. But what we want to do is to make sure that anyone that is found wanting, we just ban you out of our competition. But this time around, we have also decided to change the rules.
“The rules have changed. We are not just going to ban you from that particular year’s competition. We are going to ban you for two consecutive years including that particular year of the competition. For example, if any school is found wanting this year, this year would be part of your ban until 2026. We would expect you to come back to partake in our competition in 2026,” he said.
Mr. Ceesay said schools that are found cheating would be handed a 3-year ban consecutively without participating in their competition.
The GSSSA boss stated that he wants all PE teachers wherever they are, principals in particular to make sure they take part in the selection of their athletes.
Mr. Ceesay said the Principals should join with their PE teachers to ensure that background check is done on every athlete that is being transferred to their school.
He said the Principals should make sure that they find out whether any athlete who is part of their team whether they have already sat their WASSCE exams or not or whether they are qualified to participate or not.
“If not we are not relenting and we will never relent as long as we are in power, or we are the ones in charge of the affairs of this association. We will never relent when it comes to cheating. And we will never compromise with any school. So we want to send that strong signal to every soul out there, especially PE teachers who are capable of making sure that they come up with this kind of dubious game.
“I want to tell them that we are ready and we are more than ready. We are determined and more than determined as of last year. We are more than determined to ensure that we unearth all the secret things they are coming up with, and any plan that they try to come up with to provide ineligible athletes. If you are found wanting we’ll look at the gravity of the cheating. And if we realize that this is more than serious, we may even give you a 10-year ban,” President Ceesay said.
Mr. Ceesay said they are not discouraging anyone from the sports but rather fighting against wrongdoings in the sports. He stated if one is involved in sports then it has to be clean.
Mr. Ceesay further stated that the Gambia U-17 team last year was banned to participate in the WAFU U-17 championship because the committee responsible found “inevitable” footballers within the Gambian team who are over age.
The GSSSA President told the Journalists that in the Gambia, the moment somebody is identified to take part in another corrupt activity, they are all part of the corrupt practices including himself.
Gambia athletes always make sure they run to go and change their identity or change their age whatsoever and that is “wrong.”
“We should make sure that the young ones that are there we give them the opportunity. I know their coach is here in the building, and the athletic coach of the Gambia is here in the building and can attest to the fact that yes cheating does not pay. Sometimes you may think that yes you have succeeded when you are not succeeded. And that is why most African footballers, their careers don’t go far. They will just rise within 10 years they started diminishing in terms of performance. This is a result of age cheating,” he said.
The outspoken GSSSA President alleged that most African International career footballers have changed their ages and they don’t want that to happen in the Gambia. He said they
want to clean up from the school level and to the other levels.
Mr. Ceesay said GSSSA is determined and more than determined to ensure that sports at the school level, especially athletics and football have been under control.
“Last year, as I told you 21 schools were found wanting but again, we sent a warning to schools that any school that knows that you were not cleaned, please try to just come out graciously and then identify yourself and that anyway our house is not clean. So we want to just withdraw before we will be found wanting. Because all schools were re- investigated and all those who participated in the finals.
“We went after them one by one again to investigate them. And two schools were found wanting. That is Siffoe Senior Secondary School, and then Essau Senior Secondary School. So these two schools are now banned for two years. They are going to participate in our competition because that was our pronouncement last year. Any school that was found wanting after the championship. We will give them a two-year ban,” Mr. Ceesay.
For this year’s regional competitions, Bansang Senior Secondary School would host schools from the Upper River Region (URR) and the Central River Region (CRR).
These two zones were hosted by Basse Last year, but this year Bansang would host them from the 3rd of February to the 5th of February 2023.
From the 10th to 11th of February 2023 Farrafenni would host North Bank Region (NBR) and the Lower River Region (LRR).