Independence Stadium (Banjul Football Stadium)
Independence Stadium – stadium description
Just two years after becoming an Independent nation the modest country of Gambia had its new national stadium ready, a gift from the Chinese government. With name celebrating the independence, the ground stands not in capital Banjul, but in the outskirt town of Bakau, that has population similar to stadium’s capacity. And, which is a rare sight, the venue stands just 1,5km from the Atlantic Ocean.
It dates back to 1984 and wasn’t redeveloped since. For years it was infamous for bad management and poor standard despite numerous large events being held there. Among them national team games, concerts and political gatherings. Only in 2011 was a new management entity formed to repair the image and the stadium itself after years of negligence. First step was painting three stands visible from the main sections (the only ones with a roof) in national colours – green, blue and red. Due to the stadium having no seats, crowds highly exceeding its nominal capacity were witnessed here several times.
In 2006 an unusual event took place when Andrew Hawkins (descendent of English first slave trader) knelt chained along with several other people in front of a packed stadium to ask for forgiveness for the human trade. In a symbolic gesture of reconciliation Gambia’s vice-president released all of them.