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FIFA Holds First Ever Football Grassroots Course In Somalia

posted 19 Aug 2013, 06:00 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 19 Aug 2013, 06:00 ]

Somalia's football coaches attend a training course organised by International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, a first in over two decades. The course is part of the joint FIFA and Somali Football Federation initiative to increase the knowledge and experience of referees.

MOGADISHUSOMALIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) -  After staying away from Somalia for two decades, the world's top governing football body, FIFA is back with a plan to develop the game further in the country.

FIFA recently held its first ever grassroots course to train football coaches inSomalia. It's the first course of its kind in the country.

During years of conflict, all FIFA activities and events for Somalia were held outside its borders in neighbouring countries like Djibouti, but with improved security and stability lately, FIFA has decided to relocate events back to Mogadishu.

FIFA instructor, Ulric Mathiot who is from Seychelles was the only instructor who agreed to come to Somalia to conduct the training course.

"The place is buzzing with the enthusiasm that what you would like to show FIFA is that you are ready for whatever. So now you have to work through it and I hope that my presence here will help to show not only FIFA, but the world of football that you (Somalia) are ready for what it takes to host any FIFA event or CAF event in the future," he said.

For FIFA to hold the course in Somalia, the country needed to have met three goals; security and safety for the players, have an international standard stadium and have a local sponsor - all commitments that the country's football association has been working on.

In August 2011 African Union troops helped the Somali National Forces flush out the extremist group al Shabaab from the capital and other key bases in central andSouthern Somalia.

The Al Qaeda linked militants had enforced a ban on watching and playing football among other things and were using stadiums as training sites and bases for their operations.

Today the gates of the country's oldest stadium, the Banadiir Stadium are open for games.

The Somali Football Federation and FIFA were able to re-turf the pitch last year and are now holding field training sessions for young footballers.

"This is something we can be absolutely proud of because it is a chance to develop the grassroots. It is different when training an adult and when training a child. So from this course we get the special skills to train children. It is even more important to discipline their upbringing and encourage them to take up sports," said Yusuf Ali Noor," a coach in the country.

The five-day grassroots course trained thirty coaches on how to work with kids of various ages though animated games and tournaments to enable the children have fun, and help coaches scout for talent.

It took the Somali Football Federation four months to organise the event. Ali Said Guled, is the Federation's chairman.

"This is good opportunity for Somalia's Football Federation and the Somali people as a whole to have the first FIFA grass root course in the country after a 27 year absence of FIFA activities in Somalia because of anarchy in our country," he said.

This grassroots course already shows that there is potential for football to grow here.

Somalia is struggling to rebuild after decades of conflict and a U.N.-backed African Union peacekeeping force is trying to drive out al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebel group al Shabaab.