A young goalkeeper who played for the Gambian women's national football team has been confirmed dead by one of her former coaches, having been aboard a boat that floundered during a Mediterranean crossing last month.
The Guardian reports that Fatim Jawara, thought to have been 19 years old, was aboard a vessel that attempted to cross from Libya to Europe last month. The boat ran into trouble during the crossing, and she failed to make it to the other side.
Chorro Mbenga, assistant manager of the national Under-17 team and a former coach of Jawara's, said: "Her death is untimely, but we will remember her for her great performances on the pitch." Jawara made her debut for the senior team only last year, in a friendly against a team from Glasgow.
The goalkeeper of the Gambia's national women's side has died attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Fatim Jawara was 19. pic.twitter.com/XJ9HrPU8RD
— Jennifer O'Mahony (@jaomahony) November 2, 2016
Jawara is reported to have left the Gambia in September to cross the Sahara and travel to Libya, where thousands of African migrants attempt sea crossings to Europe every month. In a recent report, the BBC cited statistics from the International Organisation For Migration (IOM) which suggested that 3,770 migrants died trying to cross the Mediterranean last year alone.
Lamin Kabba Bajo, the president of the Gambian football federation, said of Jawara: "We are grieving at the moment, as this is a great loss to the national soccer team and the nation.
"She will be remembered for saving a penalty kick in a friendly encounter involving the national soccer team and the Glasgow Girls from Scotland."
Gambians make up a disproportionately high number of migrants attempting the crossing to Europe, with many trying to escape poverty and political violence. The country has an appalling human rights record, and suffers from severe repression and erratic government under dictator and president Yahya Jammeh.