By: Muhammed Lamin Drammeh
The President of The Gambia Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA), Mr. Ismaila Ceesay has vowed to end cheating in the interschool athletics championship and threatened to ban schools from two years to ten years from participating in the championship depending on the gravity of their cheating.
As the country rolls toward witnessing over 5 thousand athletes from over 2 hundred secondary schools across the country, the association responsible for the secondary schools sports convened a presser ahead of the regional heats.
Speaking at the press conference, President Ismaila Ceesay warned the schools that the association will not entertain any form of cheating in the competition. Schools found wanted last year were punished and further sanctions will be meted out to schools if found cheating this year.
“Last year we came with an electric broom where we were able to wipe as many schools as possible. 21 schools were banned from participating in the championships as a result of cheating. We have taken a zero stance on cheating, and we have vowed that we are going to ensure that cheating ends in secondary school sports activities,” he said.
According to Mr. Cessay, the association does not want to disadvantage the young stars coming through the ranks of the schools; thus, those deemed to have completed their secondary school studies cannot be allowed to be recycled to participate in the championship anymore.
The interschool athletic competitions, over the years, have been marred with controversy over cheating from different schools.
According to Ceesay, after banning the 21 schools, they investigated the crimes of those schools and pointed out that some of them are severe, the reason why they didn’t come out to inform the public.
However, this year, the association says they will ban schools for three years, and some will have up to ten years, depending on the gravity of their cheating.
“We are determined more than before to unearth any secret thing that they are coming up with to provide ineligible athletes. If you are found wanting, we will look at the gravity of the cheating, and then if we realized this is more than serious, we may even give you a ten-year ban,” he emphasized.
He warned the school heads to be involved in scrutinizing the students sports teachers are taking to their schools and make sure that ineligible students are not registered to take part in the competition.
Last year, after banning 21 schools for cheating, they later banned Sifoe Senior Secondary School and Essau Senior Secondary Schools for cheating.
This year’s regional heats are set to start in Bansang, where regions 6 and 5 schools will compete before going to Farefenni in the following week where region three and 4 will compete. This will be followed by Kanifing Municipality and Banjul schools and then schools in the West Coast Region.
However, due to the work going on at the Independence Stadium, the final is tentatively pegged to be done at Bottrop senior school in Brikama.