Gambia’s national women’s football team goalkeeper Fatim Jawara has died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. A statement released by the Gambian Football Federation (GFF) on Wednesday confirmed her death. According to Vanguard, the 19-year-old was part of the Gambian team that made history by putting the country’s name on the world map in the women’s Under-17 World Cup in Azerbaijan in 2012.
Jawara also played for a local championship team, the Red Scorpions and she was part of the national team that defeated the visiting Scottish Glasgow Girls FC only a few months ago, crucially saving a penalty in the game.
GFF President Lamin Kaba Bajo described her death as unfortunate saying he received the news with shock.
“I received the news and it has really shocked me. The young girl [was] a talent and on the move for greener pastures, but the way she died is just shocking and sympathetic. We at the GFF are very sad about the development and on behalf of the Football Federation, I want to send our condolences to the family of the girl and her former club Red Scorpions.”
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 3,000 migrants have either been confirmed dead or missing in their efforts to cross to Mediterranean into Europe often by boat, rubber dinghies, and other small overcrowded vessels.
Jawara is believed to have been one of several migrants who left Gambia in early September to cross the Sahara and head for the coast of Libya. From there, most African migrants begin their journey of crossing the Mediterranean into Europe. Most of the migrants embark on the perilous journey hoping to reach the island of Lampedusa in Italy.
IOM records reveal that despite being one of Africa’s smallest countries, Gambians represent the fourth largest group of arrivals to Italy. Rising migration is believed to be fueled by the poverty and lack of opportunities faced by young Gambians in their own country.