Thursday, August 08, 2013
As al-Shabaab continues to attack Mogadishu neighbourhoods during the
Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the city's youths remain unfazed, with
football players from Mogadishu's 16 districts competing in the Ramadan
Football Tournament cup.
The games in districts with popular teams, such Hodan, Wadajir and Hamar Weyne, have drawn huge crowds.
Each district tournament is independent and will hold its final match
in the coming days before Eid al-Fitr. The two finalists in Hodan
district are Bakara and Horyaal; in Wadajir, Madina Star and Ma
Ma'aanka; and in Hamar Weyne, City Star and Lido.
Games are played every afternoon at 4:30 pm, with hundreds of
spectators crowding small stadiums as they wait for iftar, the meal to
break the daily fast. The players are also fasting during the match.
But Faarah Abdi, a 21-year-old player for the City Star team in Hamar Weyne district, said fasting does not affect his game.
"I do not feel thirsty or hungry when I play," he said. "The joy and support from our fans is sustaining enough."
The purpose of these games is to promote socialisation among youth,
said Mohamed Yasin, 28, one of the organisers of the Hamar Weyne
district tournament. "Starting the preparations was not easy. At first
we formed a six-member committee that created rules for participating in
the Ramadan Football Tournament in our Hamar Weyne district," Yasin
To participate, each team must wear a unique uniform and pay between
$40 and $50 to purchase gifts for the winning team. "This year is very
different from previous years because there has not been a tournament as
successful [as this one] before," said Ilyas Yusuf Aw-Nur, head of the
Hodan tournament committee. "I am really happy with how people have
taken part in sports this Ramadan, showing that people have come back to
Mogadishu because of the peace that has returned."
"We will give the winning team a trophy and various other prizes. We
will also give prizes to the team that comes in second place, the best
player and the best referee," he told Sabahi. "I hope that they will be
pleased with some of the gifts." Wadajir district, with its football
fields filled with spectators in the evenings, shows how the public is
sharing in the joy as the games come to an end, said Omar Hassan, a
26-year-old who plays for Madina Star.
"The return of the Mogadishu public played a big role in encouraging
us when we saw them filling the fields we play in," he told Sabahi. "It
is a big victory that we have a peaceful environment that we can keep
Qasim Moalim Abdiqadir, a member of the Hodan football committee,
said the Ramadan cup is an important symbol of peace and unity for
"The most important thing is for the public to joyfully share
together the progress and peace that has come to Mogadishu as the city
comes back to life," he told Sabahi.
The games give youths from different districts the opportunity to
come together and interact in a peaceful manner, he said, something that
was not allowed when al-Shabaab controlled the city two years ago.