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Central Somalia referees, coaches set for football training

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Somalia's national football team. PHOTO | BBC

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Somali Football Federation (SFF) officials are in the central Somali town of Adado to offer Fifa-supported training in refereeing and coaching to some 30 participants.

The town, 550km north of Mogadishu, is the capital of the self-styled Himan and Heb Regional State.

The training runs from October 30 to November 3 at the State House of the regional authority as Somali football continues to see greenshoots of recovery following two decades of anarchy.

Tutors from SFF in Mogadishu were joined by officials from the regional state at the opening ceremony.

The participants including football coaches and referees were drawn from several districts that fall within the jurisdiction of Himan and Heb State.

"In the coming four days, we are going to share with you latest material and tuition stuff on football development,” said Mr Ali Mohamed Ahmed, the head of the Educational and Training section of the Somali Football Federation.

Mr Ahmed said that FIFA had always assisted football development in Somalia despite mayhem.

Mr Marhab Sheikh Ali, the State’s Minister for Social Services, affirmed that schemes like this were welcome as they enhanced social integration.

"We are going to take advantage of this opportunity to assimilate the skills (Somali) football federation trainers are going to teach us,” said Mohamed Haji Hussein, the Sports Secretary of the state.

While some of the authorities in Central Somalia such as Himan and Heb, Galmudug and Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamea allow and even encourage football, the radical Islamist group Al-Shabaab, which controls a large swathe of territory strictly prohibits playing and watching the popular game.

Time and again, officials of Harakatu Al-Shabaab al-Mujahedeen (the movement of youth jihadists) blamed football and other sports activities as opium, diverting the youth from actively engaging in the holy wars against the pro-government forces and the troops from neighbouring countries helping the restoration of peace, mainly operating under the auspices of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The country is preparing for the East and Central Africa Senior Challenge Cup (Cecafa Cup) that starts November 24 in Kampala.

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