Somali NOC president: Prioritize local leagues rather than foreign games

Somali NOC president Aden Hajji Yabarow

On Monday the president of the Somali National Olympic committee, Aden Hajji Yabarow, called on Somali fans to turn their attention from the World Cup and instead watch the local leagues.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the Somali basketball stars competition, which kicked off in Mogadishu Monday, the Somali Olympic Committee President said that it was time to ignore the World Cup and turn people’s eyes on the local sporting matches.

“You see that small number of viewers are coming to our stadiums, while most of the Somali youths are busy in watching foreign games like the FIFA World Cup, that is not acceptable” he said. Like anywhere else in the world, football is the sole sport in Somalia that can attract a hundred thousand people at one time.

“One day I was listening to a radio talk show, a man on the telephone line was asked to tell the full name of a Somali goal keeper, he was unable to, but unfortunately he recited the full name of England’s captain, that is a very big misfortune” he added during his Monday address at the opening ceremony.

Getting a qualified national basketball team
The president of Somali Basketball Federation, Ibrahim Hussein Ali Roombe, delivered a short speech at the opening ceremony and said that despite difficulties in Mogadishu his federation made more efforts to try to achieve the implementation of the match.

“Theses stars were selected from the 25th Somali basketball championship and the main point of this competition is to get a qualified national basketball team from it”, the Somali Basketball Federation President stated.

He urged players to practice fair play and respect one another during the competition. The event is being held at the Somali police academy, (which is now serving as Mogadishu’s sports city,) as the country’s international style stadiums are unable to host competitions because of wars in the city.

Security ensured by police
Colonel Garad Nur Abdulle, the commander of Somali police academy told the ceremony that more police forces have been stationed outside the academy and near by villages to ensure the security of players and fans who are coming from different areas in the city’s government-controlled side.

In the opening game, the Somali Diaspora culture team (which is funded by Somalis abroad) defeated its rivals of the Village restaurant by 79-68.

Sport and the war
Basketball is the second major sport in Somalia after football, but the country’s international style basketball play ground, the 1st July stadium which is located in the war-devastated east of Mogadishu is now closed.

Even when war is not talking place, at least 15 people are daily killed in Mogadishu, Somalia’s lawless capital. It still remains the most volatile and dangerous city in the world. Mogadishu is also known as the city of death.

More than 22,000 people (mainly civilians have been killed in Mogadishu alone) while more than 1.5 million others fled from their homes in the restive city since the start of 2007.

Somalia descended into chaos and clan-based strife in 1991, but the war between terrorists and the world is now spreading throughout Somalia. Sport is termed as a “satanic act” by insurgents.

Since the World Cup kick off on June 11th at least 2 football fans have been killed and more than 50 others were arrested by Islamist militants for watching the FIFA World Cup. The tournament, in South Africa, represents the first time that Africa hosted a World Cup.


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