The Banadiir stadium in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu was built in 1956, four years before the country’s independence from Italy.
Only until recently it was under the control of al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based cell of al-Qaeda.
Their time their is still clearly visible as bullet holes pepper the surrounding stands and walls.
But things in the previously war-ravaged city and certainly the stadium are slowly but surely changing.
Since the Somali National Army kicked the al-Shabaab militants out of Mogadishu and other towns and cities, with support from the African Union Peacekeeping Force, football’s world governing body FIFA has returned after a 25-year absence.
With FIFA’s return the country’s aspiring footballers have also been back in action.
Kids between the ages of 6 and 12 were treated to an afternoon of fun and games at a football festival organized by the body in conjunction with the Somali Football Federation.
The football camp is the finale of a five-day grass-roots training course by FIFA for local coaches in the Horn of Africa nation.
Awil Ismail, is the Technical Director of the Somalia Football Federation and said: “Somali youth are good in technique but the problem that we have since we have been at war for a long time. There has been a gap; in my point of view I hope that the coming years we will be better. Because we are now have some stability.”
After years of sport being banned by the ousted al-Shabaab, kids can now enjoy a good kick around again.
And FIFA’s return to the war-torn country and the training course on a brand new artificial pitch at the Banadiir stadium is an encouraging step in helping to bring football in Somalia back to life.
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