Somalia marks International Day of Sport for Development and Peace
Hundreds of Somali youth joined the rest of the world in celebrating the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Thursday.
Colorful celebrations organized by the Banadir Regional Administration and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, were held in Mogadishu’s Banadir stadium and attended by tens of youths, representatives of the international community, members of the civil society and government officials.
Donning sports uniforms of their respective clubs and carrying banners, tens of youths took part in a procession, aimed at publicizing the importance of the day, which celebrates the power of sport in promoting peace and development.
A few kilometers away, at Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre, in the district of Shangaani; cheered on by scores of youth, two teams, Shaqeyso 1 and Shaqeyso 2, locked horns in a pulsating football match in the sweltering afternoon heat. The event was organized in coordination with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Banadir Regional Administration, the local youth partner BARYA and UN-Habitat. The Minister of Youth and Sports, Khadija Mohamed Diriye, and the Deputy Mayor of Banadir Regional Administration in charge of Social Affairs, Mr. Iman Icar, graced both events.
Speaking at the Stadium, Mr. Icar encouraged the youth to take up sports, saying it not only had the power to unite and spur development, but also promote peace and security.
“Sport is important for the youth and this event is testimony that sport is taking place in Mogadishu, supporting peace, supporting development and supporting the youth. When you tour the city in the afternoon, you will discover that the whole city has been turned into a soccer field,” he noted.
The Deputy Mayor observed that the residents in the city and other parts of the country would soon begin enjoying the benefits of sports - its ability to foster peace and dissuade youth from violent extremism.
“I think sports will definitely help return normalcy to the city. It will also be a benefit to the community in countering violent extremism,” he said.
In her remarks, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Khadija Mohamed Diriye, emphasized the government’s commitment to improving the lives of the youth, through sports.
“This is the opportunity for the youth to take part in the stability and security of the country, particularly the security and stability of Mogadishu. This is a very historic day and I appreciate UN-Habitat and the Banadir Regional Administration who have played a key role in this,” Ms. Khadija stated.
Most of the youths taking part in the festivities expressed their love for sports and enumerated the positive benefits it can bring to the country.
“Sport has a huge impact on peace. Everyone who takes part in this celebration will impact on armed militia who will begin asking questions why they are armed, while their friends are playing football and celebrating. I appeal to the youth to change their attitude and put a lot of emphasis on sports and peace initiatives and at the same time, fundraise for drought victims,” Mohamed Abdisalan Jama, a 22 year old resident of Shangaani district said.
UN-Habitat National Youth Expert Ali Fidow, emphasized the significance of cultivating access to adequate and safe public spaces for youth to play sports stating that it is essential for healthy development of every young person. “As a public space for youth across the city to benefit from, the Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre is critical to ensuring a safe and generative space for young people to develop their skills and to play sports. In coordination with the Banadir Administration Sports Department we hold regular sessions for youth to come and play football and to disengage from the difficulties of their daily lives and to disengage from the violence that can often surround them.”
His sentiments are echoed by Amran Mohamed Ali, another youth participant, who urged fellow youth to take sports seriously.
“Without peace there is no sport. Peace promotes sport. Sport and peace have something in common and go hand in hand and as such there is an improvement in peace,” observed Ali.
In 2013, the United Nations declared April 6, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, making it an annual event. The day aims to bring goodwill and positive social outcomes through sporting achievements. It was born out of the realization that sport has the immense potential to bridge cultural understanding, improve education, health and economic and social development.