05 January 2006

GAMBIA: Bojang Seeks to Give to Gambia

Former Illinois State basketball player Baboucarr Bojang's opportunity to give back may help put The Gambia on the international basketball map. The 25-year-old Bojang, who played for the Redbirds in 2002 and 2003, is attempting to work his way through the European basketball world in Europe. He is playing for second division club Kauhajoen Karhu Kauhajoki in Finland.

The Banjul native is one of only two professional basketball players presently produced by The Gambia. But he believes he is far from the last. "I'm working day and night to get myself in a position to make lot of money to help improve basketball in The Gambia," said Bojang, who hopes to meet Gambian president Yahya Jammeh and ask him for help in his efforts.

Bojang plans to bring home used basketball shoes and balls. He also wants to start a project to help give more children the chance to play basketball after school. "I'd like to create an after-school program where children, between the age of 9 and 15, can go and have recreation time in the gym. The project would also provide food for them. And they would be supervised full-time by a trainer earning a monthly salary," he said

One thing lacking is money. Bojang said his salary in Finland only allows him to live comfortably. "But I plan to use my popularity and network of basketball friends to help raise money for this project. Even 10 Euros is like hundreds of dollars at home," Bojang said.

Bojang says $50,000 would be a "great start" for his campaign.

The SoS for Youth and Sport Mr. Samba Faal appreciates players returning something to their homeland. "Boo is a great ambassador for The Gambia.

He is not just taking, but also giving. He will have a great impact on basketball here. It's a good humanitarian act," he noted

"I want to see basketball become what football is now." he said. "It's a challenge as the resources are not there. But we have to work on making basketball competitive and popular and allow a lot of people to like the game," SoS Faal continued.

Bojang came to The Gambia in June for the first time in nine years after playing professionally in Denmark where he averaged nearly 30 points and 12 rebounds for Glostrup during his second season in 2004-05.

"I hadn't been back to The Gambia for nine years. It was very different.

I couldn't remember the streets," admitted Bojang, who was just 16 when he left in 1996.

Bojang still hopes to achieve big things on the basketball courts of Europe. He wants to make better inroads into Germany next season because his American coach, Greg Gibson, played there for a few years.


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