Wednesday September 26, 2018
Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu exploded into excitement last night, as two football teams from Benadir Region, where the capital lies, tussled it out for the final place in the month-long district soccer tournament.Waaberi district clinched the winning trophy for the second year running, with a 1-0 win against Shibis district. The district also took the cup in another exciting floodlit match against Hodan district last year.
Abdiaziz district, which hosted the final game, came alive under floodlights, which illuminated the match, played at the fall of darkness, inside a fully packed Koonis Stadium. The match was attended by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmajo’, several senior Federal Government officials and thousands of soccer enthusiasts.
It was the second match held under floodlights in the Horn of Africa country, in 30 years, since the outbreak of the civil war in 1991; a clear demonstration of the outstanding progress made towards the stability of the country.
“It gives us much pleasure to witness such a historic night. It proves the naysayers wrong - those who claim that such activities cannot be held at night. I believe there will be many more nights like this one,” said the Mayor of Mogadishu and Governor of Benadir Regional Administration, Abdirahman Omar Osman (Eng. Yarisow).
“The purpose (of the tournament), is to prepare the youth to develop and advance in sports and peace; and promote their inclusion in the involvement of activities aimed at rebuilding Somalia,” remarked Eng. Yarisow.
The annual tournament kicked off on August 24, pitting 17 district teams against each other. “The important takeaway from this month-long tournament is that this final game is taking place at night, in Mogadishu, in Abdiaziz district and with thousands of soccer fans in attendance, a feat worth celebrating,” noted Abdifatah Omar Halane, the Director General of Public Works of Benadir Administration - the organisers of the inter-district tournament.
For the coach of the winning team, this feat was worth the sacrifices and hard work by his players. “My team has reached the finals for four consecutive years; 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. You can understand the hard work that has gone into this,” said a thrilled Mohamed Abukar Noor ‘Bakar’.
The objective of the annual tournament is to give young people an opportunity foster peace and unity by interacting, socializing and sharing positive experiences. It also serves as a platform to identify talented soccer players.
“These tournaments are of great importance to the communities living in Mogadishu,’ explained Hassan Adan Yabarow Wiish, the head of Benadir sports. “These are golden opportunities for the young people to showcase their talent. Benadir Regional Administration encourages youth to partake in such sporting activities,” Hassan added.
The tournament stands as a symbol of the relative peace being enjoyed in the capital since the removal of armed militia gangs from the city’s streets by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in 2011, working in tandem with Somali security forces.
The presence of the AU troops has brought a semblance of peace and normalcy in Mogadishu and other parts of the country, where Somalis feel safe to go about their daily business unhindered.
Al-Shabaab militants which held reign over the city before 2011 banned sports and other recreational activities. However, the presence of the AU troops has ensured that young people openly enjoy such activities, which are key to their development and well-being.