By Abiodun Oluleye
Fatim Jawara, 19, goalkeeper of Gambia women’s national soccer team died while trying to migrate to Italy, a member of her family said on Thursday.
She died on Oct. 27 during an attempt to cross by boat from Libya to Italy, the athlete’s cousin, Ablie Jobarteh, told newsmen.
“After leaving the West African nation of Gambia in September, the young athlete reportedly spent several weeks in a camp in the Libyan town of Misrata, before boarding a boat to cross the Mediterranean Sea,’’ Jobarteh added.
According to the cousin, the family was informed of Jawara’s death by the smuggler whom she paid to help her into Europe.
“We are grieving as this is a great loss to the national soccer team and the nation,’’ the president of the Gambia Football Federation, Lamin Kaba Bajo, said.
Jawara first entered the international sports stage as Gambia’s goalkeeper during the U-17 World Cup in Azerbaijan in 2012.
According to UN figures, around 4,000 migrants and refugees have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, making it the deadliest year ever for migrants crossing the sea into Europe.