I created Tiger Claw because I want to help the Gambian youth. I was born in Gambia and I lived there for thirteen years before coming to the United States in 2006. Based on my time in Gambia, I have experienced first-hand how challenging life can be. I consider myself lucky to have escaped that li... Read More
I created Tiger Claw because I want to help the Gambian youth. I was born in Gambia and I lived there for thirteen years before coming to the United States in 2006. Based on my time in Gambia, I have experienced first-hand how challenging life can be. I consider myself lucky to have escaped that life. However, my friends and the rest of its population of 2.1 million are not as lucky. About 95% of the country’s population lives in extreme poverty. Most of the college graduates and high-school dropouts are unemployed and depend on their parents and relatives to survive. These extreme living conditions force most of our youth to embark on a treacherous journey to Europe that often ends up claiming the lives of so many of our brothers.
In fact, the person who motivated me was Tapha Jatta, my childhood best friend, who lost his life on a similar journey. He was a soccer player like myself, and we grew up playing the game on the streets of Lamin. He was an excellent player. If surviving back home weren’t so difficult, I’m convinced he would have stayed and tried to become a professional soccer player someday. But since most youths were traveling to Europe through the so-called “Back Way,” he had no choice but to gamble his own life as well. When I heard the news that he had drowned in the Atlantic Ocean on his way to Spain, I was very saddened. In that moment, I thought that could have been me.
The “Back Way,” as it is called, is the path many African youth take to get to Europe, primarily Italy. To get to Italy, the Gambian youth start their expedition by taking this long and clandestine “Back Way,” which starts from the Western Saharan route in Senegal and ends at the Central Mediterranean. According to Alexandra Embiricos, about 80% of these young refugees end up dying in the Mediterranean, while some vanish at the Libyan Immigration detention center. A Gambian refugee, Djibril, once said, “It came to the point where half of my football [soccer] team had gone through the “Back Way.” These revelations only point to the need of an organization such as TCYSA in the Gambia.
This is the reason I have decided to start playing my part in making Gambia a better place for our youth. The goal of my organization is to build well-equipped soccer academies throughout the country that will give the youth the knowledge and skills they need to possibly have a chance to pursue their dreams of playing professionally someday. We will also educate our players about the dangers of traveling through the “Back Way,” the importance of sportsmanship, teamwork and health and, most importantly, we will use them as surrogates to spread the word around to their families and friends. I strongly believe this is one of the steps we need to take to end the “Back Way” calamity. My organization’s plan will not only help prevent the loss of innocent lives, but also improve Gambia’s national soccer industry by producing the finest talent the organization has to offer.
Since I have a solid soccer background, I know what it will take to carry out our goals. I have continued to play soccer since immigrating to this country. When I first arrived here, the first team I played for was the Cobb Futbol Club Select. Later that year, I went on to play for coaches that later recruited me to play for their YMCA teams. In 2010, I started playing for the McEachern High School varsity soccer team. During the weekends, I would get invitations to play in the Semi-Professional adult leagues.
When I graduated from high school in 2012, I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle on a scholarship, but decided to turn it down. This was a big opportunity for me, but I had to pass on it because I wanted to attend a different college: Kennesaw State University. I’m currently studying at KSU, majoring in Human Services. Since the university doesn’t have a competitive male soccer team, I gladly spend most of my leisure time coaching high-school kids around the metro Atlanta area.
I can only do this with your help. I’m reaching out to the community and asking you to join our commitment by helping us will all types of resources, as they are needed. Our organization plans are as follows:
· To buy lands and build soccer fields
· To seek primary schools to form four teams with head and assistant coaches - By forming teams in schools, we will support students to be and stay be motivated to complete their education.
· To employ competitive coaches for youths who are not capable of affording education - By employing qualified coaches and soccer officials, we are also helping them to have some income to help feed their own families.
· To buy equipment and jerseys for each team
· To host a competition between the teams at each participating school
· To send association staffs to Gambia to spend time with each team
· To form a celebration party with the winning teams
Since we value our sponsors, the association has decided to offer the following in an effort to show our appreciation and a way to make it easier for sponsors to see how their donations are making a change in the lives of the youth:
· Sponsor’s names or logos on TCYSA t-shirts
· Interviews with athletes that will be posted on our social pages for sponsors to see
· Photos and videos of winners reading “Thank you”
Thank you for your consideration in helping the Tiger Claw Youth Soccer Association in reaching its goal in changing the lives of underprivileged youth in Gambia.
CEO and President
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Tiger Claw Youth Soccer Association
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