World football’s governing body, FIFA, recently organized a five-day training program to help develop the sport in Somalia.
The football festival in the capital, Mogadishu, was attended by more than 30 coaches and 300 children.
During the clinic, local coaches learned basic training techniques with the hope of improving the skills of young Somali footballers.
Ulric Mathiot, a FIFA instructor from Seychelles, says “The Beautiful Game” can grow in Somalia.
“Now we hope that the Somali Football Federation, they can have a long time vision or long time program, where they can bring this sort of activity all around the country,” says Mathiot, “in fact in as many regions as possible. So touching as many kids as possible from six to 12 years old.”
FIFA is again kicking off training programs in Somalia after suspending them for two decades because of war.
Awil Ismail, the technical director of the Somali Football Federation, says the conflict stunted soccer development.
“Somali youth are good in technique, but the problem that we have is we have been at war for a long time,” says Ismail. “There has been a gap. I hope that the coming years will be better. Because we now have some stability and we have grassroots courses that FIFA has helped us with. So in the future, I hope that we will be one of the best in east Africa.”
For now, though, Somalia has one of the weakest teams in Africa.
The Ocean Stars of Somalia are ranked 52nd out of 54 African teams in the August FIFA rankings.
Somali players and officials are hopeful these type of FIFA training programs are laying the groundwork for a brighter football future.