May 31, 2012 ·8 Comments
Photo: Sohasco players on the offensive against Asluubta during the first day of the game (Somalilandpress)
HARGEISA — Somaliland Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Mr. Ali Saeed Raigal, simultaneously inaugurated three-week long football and basketball tournaments this week in the capital intended to promote social integration through sports.
The project is funded by Mercy Corps and the USAID and aims to bring together youths from different social backgrounds for joint sporting activities that will hep facilitate an environment in which they all interact. The social project also hopes to win the youth over for the formation of sports clubs and organisations.
The program aims to use sport to address issues such as school dropouts, violence among youths and drug awareness.
The two events are concurrently happening at the National Stadium in Hargeisa where eight teams will battle it out for top honors in a football tournament while six basketball teams are squaring off at the famous Tima Aade Centre in central Hargeisa. Both tournaments are supported under the USAID funded School Environment Education Development for Somaliland (SEEDS) program implemented by Mercy Corps.
The best four teams from both the basketball and football will receive awards ranging from trophies, uniforms and other sports kits. The Sports ministry hopes the tournament will help nurture football and basketball talent as well as help it pick the best sportsmen who will represent Somaliland in international tournament.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the games, Minister Raigal thanked the USAID and Mercy Corps for their continuous support to his ministry and the youth in the country. He said football and basketball are universal sports that have large following in Somaliland. He urged the youngsters to enjoy the opportunity presented to them by the two agencies.
“I wish to thank Mercy Corps and USAID for supporting these sporting events. I want the youths to know that we are all working for their better future because a sport in general is good for the physical wellbeing by keeping their body and mind healthy. These games are meant to help the youth stay away from drug abuse, illegal migration and other dangerous vices. I urge our youngsters to enjoy the games and integrate well with the peers,” Minister Raigal said before kicking a ball to open the sports bonanza.
Speaking on behalf of Mercy Corps, Education Specialist Olad Farah thanked the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture for their cooperation and excellent working relationship with Mercy Corps and promised more support for youth programs.
“This is a very important event in Somaliland because youth are the most important and the largest group in the community. For the sake of integration, we hope these sporting events will help foster unity among the youth of Somaliland,” Olad added during the launch of the Integration Cup in Hargeisa stadium.
The Integration Cup is overseen by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and closely managed by both the Somaliland Basketball Federation and the Football Federation, the two bodies that run football and basketball affairs in Somaliland.
Mohamed Abdullahi Qodah, the Somaliland Basketball Federation chairman said the tournament could not have come at a better time for the youngsters following a dismal performance by a male team that represented Hargeisa city in the East African Inter-Cities Basketball Championship in Kampala Uganda in April.
“We are very glad our young players have been given this opportunity to take part in this important basketball tournament. The competition will help us pick the best youngsters who will automatically join the junior national team whom we hope to nurture and prepare well for future representation of Somaliland in international competitions. The experience the youngsters will gain from the competition will be very useful in helping us constitute a strong team in future,” Mahamud said. Youngster Abdimajid Feisal who plays for Sohasco basketball club could not agree more.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our talent. We really thank Mercy Corps and USAID for organizing and funding this competition. The morale is very high among the boys and each one of us just wants to enjoy this rare sporting opportunity which will help foster friendship and integration among the youth of Hargeisa,” Abdimajid, a 16 year old high school student, said moments after their nail-biting opening game against their local rivals Asluubta finished 31 to 27 in their favor.
Mercy Corps says sport is a human right and a vital tool for youth growth, learning and social development. The organization tackles many different issues in areas affected by natural disasters and conflict using a variety of sport-based activities.
May 31, 2012Follow @somalilandpress
By goth Mohamed