Somalia holds first flood-lit football match in 30 years

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The well-lit iconic Benadir stadium

As the game ended, Waberi district team has been crowned the champion of the year.

by Mohamed Nur

MOGADISHU – It was a night filled with excitements and enthusiasm in the Somali capital, as the city held the first nocturnal district-level youth football tourney at the FIFA refurbished and well-lit stadium on Friday evening.

In the shining Benadir stadium packed with thrilled fans, Waberi district’s team took on its rival Hodan district team in a tight match amid cheering and electrifying atmosphere.

Somalia has last held a football match at night 30 years ago before the country plunged into over two decades of conflict that left stadiums destroyed and looted and all football activities halted before the country’s football federation moved to restore all football facilities some years back.

With two goals lead in the first half, Waberi district has beaten a 3-1 lead over Hodan, sending thousands of fans into wild celebration and single-handedly ended the Somalia’s most prestigious districts competition.

As the game ended, Waberi district team has been crowned the champion of the year.

Sponsored by the Mayor of Somalia’s capital, Thabit Abdi Mohamed, the four-week long football tournament has brought together some 391 young footballers, all aged 16, 17 and 18 years. They were representing their respected districts. This is the 3rd edition of the competition and it is normally sponsored by the Mayor of the capital, but it is not to be confused with the National youth football league which is played by U 15s.

“I take this opportunity to thank the Mayor of the capital, Thabet Abdi Mohamed, for his commitment to help the development of our sport. He is a young man who loves football and his full sponsorship for the competition makes a big sense for us” Somali Football Federation president, Abdiqani Said Arab, said in a statement.

“Such competitions help us identify young and talented footballers. They will be taken for the National youth team and our clubs will also benefit from them” SFF president’s statement reads.

The highly anticipated match marked a significant progress for the local young coaches trained by the Somali Football federation who are also leading all 17 teams in the competition, which would mean that it is an all-youth tournament.

However, during the competition, technical team has been assigned to make a selection of the most talented boys, and according to the SFF technical department some 102 players have been shortlisted. Somali Football Federation said that a training program will be drawn for the shortlisted footballers.

(Editing by Judy Maina)

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