Gambian footballer dies trying to reach Europe

Fatim Jawara throws a ball on a football pitch.Image copyright
Gambia Football Federation

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The Gambia FA says Fatim Jawara will be remembered for her great performance on the pitch

The 19-year-old goalkeeper of Gambia’s national women’s football team has drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe.

Fatim Jawara was on board a boat that ran into trouble last month while crossing from Libya to Europe, the country’s football federation says.

Her family confirmed news of her death, according to association president Lamin Kaba Bajo.

Many of the undocumented migrants who arrive in Italy are Gambians.

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Jawara made her debut with the national women’s side a year ago, after playing in the junior team.

“She will be remembered for saving a penalty kick in a friendly encounter involving the national soccer team and the Glasgow Girls from Scotland,” Mr Bajo told AFP

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In a Facebook post, the federation said the manner in which she had died was “shocking”.

The coach of the Red Scorpions, a local team she played in, described Fatim as a very lovely person who always smiled.

Chorro Mbega told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that Jawara was a member of the squad that represented the Gambia in the 2012 under-17 World Cup in Azerbaijan, having first joined the team in 2009.

“Fati was a player who can play anywhere on the field. I’m really sad about this because she fought so much to be number one,” Ms Mbega said.

She said she was not aware of Fatim being frustrated but added that Red Scorpion players were not paid salaries.

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Jennifer O’Mahony/@Twitter

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Fatim Jawara was the goalkeeper of the national women’s team

More than 4,200 migrants fleeing conflict and poverty have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean this year, figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) show.

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