I grew up playing basketball with my brothers on a cement court my father built in our backyard. It was a safe environment and we had lots of fun playing one of the world’s most popular sports.

In Somalia, where there has been decades of war, basketball is being used as a peace-building tool in an area of the capital, Mogadishu, that previously was off-limits to the sport.

Somali boys and girls are getting a chance to learn the game through daily clinics.

Check out this video report I did for the Voice of America’s Africa 54 television program.

Somali basketball coach Hassan Ahmed Gelleh says, “We’ve come through very difficult times. Al Shabaab wanted people to participate in Jihad rather than play or even wear shorts. We still managed to hold some competitions, but girls weren’t even allowed to come to the court. We’ve had a lot of problems, but there’s a huge change now. Both men and women can come and play. Somalia used to be one of the leading teams in Africa.”