With football being popularly used as a tool for peacebuilding in Somalia for the past 22 years, one of the interesting sporting events is currently playing a key role in the fight against piracy in the war-devastated country under the theme of fight piracy football tournament.
Through the sub regional football committee, the Somali Football Federation is very hopeful that the football tournament which started in the coastal town of Bosasso over the weekend will help many young men to refrain from piracy or take part in fighting in their areas.
The tournament which assembled young boys representing 14 districts in the Bari region which is the largest region in Somalia is mainly intended to encourage young boys from piracy and help them refrain from the armed confrontations in their districts.
“Football play a key role in the public integration and prevents young boys from taking up arms, drug abuse or falling into other kinds of crimes,” the regional football committee chairman Mustafe Abdirahman Majacase emphasized at the opening of the tournament.
The opening match between Bosasso and Gumbax district boys ended in 2-1 in favor of Gumbax. Other participating districts are Waaciye, Iskushuban, Ufeyn, Qandala, Carmo, Balidhidin, Baargaal, Caluula, Rako Raaxo, Degaanka Qaw, Degaanka Buruc and Galgala.
Somali Football Federation praised its representatives in the region for the step taken to encourage other regional sub football committees affiliated to SFF for the initiative that will help stem surge piracy in Somalia.
Objectives of the tournament
Somali Football Federation Secretary General Abdi Qani Said Arab said in a press statement that the main objectives of holding this tournament include:
Since 2005 piracy off the lawless coasts of Somalia has been high on the agenda at all piracy-related conferences around the world and scores of warships were sent to Somalia to fight notorious buccaneers.
“Nothing has been achieved to stop piracy from attacking ships off Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden until now. I clearly say that the world has not yet find the right solutionthat can eradicate pirates and that is football,” the SFF secretary General said.
SFF Secretary General added that as the world learned from the past history, football has destroyed the green line that once divided the capital Mogadishu into two parts each controlled by a hostile warlord.
He stressed that the Football also helped the disarmament of thousands of former child soldiers who were used as fighters by all sides involved in the armed conflicts in the country.
“So with a real contribution from the outside world we are very hopeful that we can over come piracy through football,” the Secretary General emphasized in his press statement on Monday.
Currently, former child soldiers and street boys were rehabilitated under football for peace and football for hope programs. They are now in the National U-20 football team.
The Bari region where the Fight piracy tournament is taking place is part of the semiautonomous Somali state of Puntland where the Somali Football Federation held the regional football tournament for peace and friendship in December 2010.