• Pa M. Jatta and Famara Badjie

From zero to hero: Sainey Trawally, the Save Hands of Gunjur United

Quite unusual for a player at his age (16) to prove themselves at the big stage, the young goalkeeper defied the odds to prove his worth for Gunjur United in the Gambia Football Federation Second Division League. A regular starter who played 27 games and maintained 10 clean sheets. His performance makes him a legitimate contender for the Gambia Footballer Players Association goalkeeper of the season's award. Should he win, that will not be any surprise to anyone who watched Sainey Trawally play as a goalkeeper.

From zero to becoming a hero, Sainey played more minutes (2,430) than any other Gunjur United player. His dream of setting a straight record of helping the team gain promotion to the top tier in his first full season was cut short in a narrow 2 -1 defeat against Team Rhino in the playoffs. So close yet so far, but in any standard, that was a remarkable achievement for a goalkeeper at his age, he's a hero!


THE BEGINNING OF THE JOURNEY


Sainey Trawally started playing football at the Gunjur Academy where he learned goalkeeping skills. His competitive football started in the Junior championships where he started showing the kind of a top-class goalie he will become in the future. He played two seasons and won one League Cup and one golden glove award with Young Ajax F.C

Sainey Trawally seen here with Buckingham United FC (Gunjur)
Sainey Trawally lifts the knock-out trophy for Buckingham United in his final season with the team in 2017

That was the beginning of Sainey's glittering career. He impressed virtually all the young clubs in Gunjur at the time, Buckingham United (In Gunjur, not in the UK though) one of the formidable and well-structured teams hijacked the youngster and made him part of their team. He started as a substitute goalkeeper, but Sainey's commitment and hard work will soon earn him a spot in the line ups. In his first season as a first-choice goalkeeper, he helped the team to win their first-ever Intermediate league cup in 2015. He stayed in the Intermediate competition for four years and won one League Cup, Two Knockout Cups, Three Super Cups and he was twice named as the goalkeeper of the season and once the most outstanding youngster of the season.


THE TRANSITION


A moment to move from the Intermediate level to the Senior level. Sainey was too young for senior football but, equally too good to stay at the Intermediate level and between the two options, the youngster decided to take the bold step to graduate and move to the Senior Level as one of the youngest netminders at the time.

Saineys stint as a 'Nawettan' footballer (The most popular local football champions played across footballing communities in The Gambia) lasted three-season (2017 - 2019). Those were heartbreaking moments for the young netminder. He came so close, but the trophy has always been elusive.


First Year 2017 Team F.C Bax League Cup runners up


Second Year Team 2018. Solifo/Falcons FC Knockout runners up


Third Year. 2019. Solifo/Falcons FC

Both the League & Knockout Cup semi-finalists.


THE RAPID DEVELOPMENT


Saineys development has been fast and furious. In the 2018 and 2019 seasons, at the expense of several highly experienced custodians, the young netminder was included in the Gunjur Zonal team as a second choice goalkeeper.


The young shot-stopper's development has been rapid. His outstanding performances continued to earn him great call ups. He joined Gunjur United in the GFF Division Two League in the 2019/2020 campaign making him the youngest ever goalkeeper to appear at the grand stage for Gunjur United. And straight away he broke into the first team and played eight games as the league was cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sainey Trawally's magnetic hands, communication skills, good positioning and footwork, coupled with his excellent hand-eye coordination makes him a regular face in-between the frames for Gunjur United in the 2020/21 season. As the last line of defence, the teenage goalkeeper was inspirational throughout the season.


THE LAST HOPE WHEN THE DEFENCE FAILS


Always a shoulder to lean on when the defenders fail in their efforts, Sainey Trawally has many strings to his bow that complements his game, fearless in 1v1 situations, pulling off a string of saves that has kept his team in the game. His height is an advantage that helps him deal with aerials comfortably. A coachable player with a lot of willpower to succeed in the beautiful game of football. The teenage goalie has an excellent understanding of the role he plays.


What more does Sainey lack, perhaps nothing. His jumping ability, fantastic coordination, excellent distribution, solid catching, wonderful agility, strong punching, and fast reflexes are all attributes of a classic goalkeeper. He has all the potentials to make a breakthrough in the international scenes as he progresses with his footballing career.

He has contributed substantially and effectively to Gunjur United's efforts in coming so close to gaining promotion to the GFF Division One. He demonstrated competence and dexterity as a netminder and paid special attention to the relevance and details of all genres of being a true custodian of Gunjur United.


His interest in the subject of the beautiful game of football as a netminder imbued a renewed spirit and confidence which served as motivation for him to collaborate with other players. He has won many individual accolades and demonstrated a high degree of discipline throughout being a goalkeeper in the GFF Division Two League


A SUPPORTING FAMILY IN HIS WORDS!


"My family is always there to support me in all the things I choose to do in my life. They have been giving me the required freedom, and for me, that truly inspires me the most".


THE DREAM


"My ultimate goal is to achieve what my dad couldn't achieve as a goalkeeper, that is to be the best goalkeeper in the World and serve my country, The Gambia. I want to make him (My dad) proud, for the way he has brought me up and through every step of the way".


WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT SAINEY


His former coach at Buckingham United Famara Badjie had this to say: "Am not surprise to see Sainey control the goalkeeping position of a divisional team at such young age. I know with his commitment, discipline and desire to improve, he will soon play professional football."


His coach at Gunjur United Bubacarr Bojang offered these words: "Even last season when we were using him, some people complained that he's too young, to me the focus is not much about the age but the mental strength and the potential. So the brilliant season Sainey has is a sort of vindication for me. I hope the national youth team coaches can justly consider him during the selections."


His father Buba Trawally a former goalkeeper said of his son: "Sainey is committed to becoming a professional footballer, all I can do for him is to support him100%. Is the wish of every parent to see your kids achieve more than you. I keep praying for him to become a professional footballer so he can change our life."


Sainey's hobbies are watching football highlights and gardening.


At this age, Sainey has just proven himself as not just a community prospect, but a national asset in the near future. He is a nominee of the 2021 GFF 2nd Division League "Goalkeeper of The Season". If he wins the category, it will be a deserving recognision of his talent.


Sainey Trawally in action



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