Somalia says ready to host international games

Somalia is looking forward to play matches on home soil for the first time in three decades. The country last hosted a competitive match for its senior team in 1986.

Since then, insecurity has been the biggest hurdle to hosting matches. Currently, the African Union troops are using the country’s biggest stadium as a military base.

But as Abdulaziz Billow reports, the government is eager to change this and host international football once again.

Jubbaland has won the second edition of Somalia’s inter regional soccer tournament – beating defending champions Puntland by a goal to nil at the Benadir stadium

Close to twenty thousand soccer fans attended the month long tournament that brought together teams from Mogadishu and five of Somalia’s federal member states.

It’s Jubbaland’s first win.  In 2016 Puntland won its first ever trophy after beating Jubbaland in a penalty shoots out.

Meanwhile, back in the port city of Kismayo, the town is celebrating, the last time it won a cup was before the civil war in early 90’s.

It’s on this note that sports officials want to improve the quality of local teams -football association president says in 2018 Mogadishu will host international friendly matches.

Already foreign based players from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria play in the domestic league

“In 2018 – God willing we are looking forward to hosting international friendly tournaments with neighbouring countries – the last time that happened was 36 years ago – we want support from the government, the business community. Let’s promote sports and offer our youth a chance at a better life – sports is very essential to community integration”.  Somalia’s Football Association President, Abdiqani Said Arab said.

Currently, Mogadishu uses the Benadir stadium for both soccer and athletic tournaments. The stadium was recently refurbished by the world football governing body FIFA – but can’t handle large crowds.

African Union forces are yet to abandon the Chinese built Mogadishu stadium – the biggest in the country with a seating capacity of more than 65,000.

“The inter regional tournament is a great opportunity for us all and If we trully want to support our boys – let’s all join hands, rebuild and open the Mogadishu Stadium in 2018″. Somalia’s prime minister, Hassan Kheyre said.

Kheyre now wants the forces out of the sports facility to pave way for growth of sports in a country emerging from decades of instability

Football officials say that staging of friendly matches at home will pave the way for the organization of CECAFA tournaments in Somalia – in the coming years

The youth currently make up to 70% of the entire Somali population and sports have been attributed as key factor in creating community integration.  For those who can’t make it to the city stadiums,  indoor playing grounds like this ensures that the country’s youth remain active as the use of sports continues to act acts as a bridge to bring communities closer together”.