Somali 2013 League Kicks Off Under ‘New Name’

For the first time in Somali football history, the country’s top league now named after the ‘Nation Link Telecom Championship’ got under way at a world class facility.

The opening match attracted the highest number of spectators evervseen at a Somali stadium in nearly 30 years of recorded history.

Top Somali government officials including law makers, Somali Football Federation executive committee members, the country’s most renowned football legends, representatives from top business companies and other honourable guests have attended a colourful ceremony which intended to mark on the launching of the country’s most populous sporting competition.

Somali Football Federation Secretary General Abdi qani Said Arab who first addressed at the opening ceremony said that it was a very gear honour for Somali Football Federation to launch SFF’s top competition at such international class facility thanking the world’s football governing body for helping Somali league get this international style stadium.

It was in 2006 when Banadir Stadium hosted the last football league. The facility was ill-equipped during the time. On behalf of the entire Somali football family members, SFF secretary General Abdi Qani Said Arab said that Somalia was very grateful to FIFA whose without assistance nothing would have been possible for Somalia in terms of the promotion of football in this war-devastated country.

“FIFA had carried out two main projects here, one is the Artificial Turf installation which was done under ‘Win in Africa with Africa’ project and the reconstruction of the VIP section of the facility which is still under process-we thank FIFA president Blatter and his executive committee for helping Somalia in such difficulty circumstances,” secretary General Abdi Qani Said Arab emphasized.

He said after prolonged talks between the Network Company and Somali Football Federation executive committee, the Nation Link Telecom accepted to financially help the competition which instead of that will take the company’s name. He said that during the competition Nation Link Telecom will cover all expenses.

“Nation Link has been encouraging Somali football since 2006 and as Somali Football Federation authorities, we are very grateful to them for their encouragement and support to Somali Football,” Secretary General Abdi Qani Said Arab said adding that Nation Link Telecom had financially helped the regional football for peace tournaments held in Jowhar in 2008 and that of Garowe in 2010.

On the behalf of Somali government, the director Aweys Sheik Haddad who addressed the launching ceremony praised Somali Football Federation for the unprecedented move forward which he said was helping peace and development in the country.

“Today is a great day, it is a day of progress, it is a day of hopes and it is a very huge honour for Somali government and the entire people of Somalia that our football league is being exhibited at this very beautiful stadium which Somalia had never had before, As a government we praise FIFA and the Somali football Federation for the unique move,” the director stated.

He said Somali Football Federation has done a very fantastic job for the country, adding that the history of Somalia will always be mentioning SFF’s great role in peace building and development of football throughout the country.

Somali Football federation President Ali Said Guled Roble, said that Somali Football’s long-existed dreams have come true with Somalia’s most interested sporting competition being played at a sophisticated facility.

“2013 is a great year for Somalia, because in August we held the grass roots course which was the first ever of its kind that Somalia gets from FIFA and today we are opening the Nation Link Telecom 2013 championship at such beautiful stadium,” the SFF president said in his address thanking FIFA for its support and financial assistance.

He also praised the local and international media for their full coverage of Somalia’s football activities.

“The friendly media are praise worthy and we believe the media are playing an important role in the encouragement of the promotion of football in Somalia,” SFF president Ali Said Guled Roble mentioned in his opening address.

“Football is the people’s choice; it is all about peace, development and public integrations, we love our football fans of whom some have arrived from so far distances, so I however encourage them to show calmness and help us all enjoy in very cheerful and stable watching during all matches,” President Ali Said Guled Rtoble said told the ceremony before announcing the competition was open.

However, Heegan FC beat their Gaadiidka rivals by 3-2 in Friday’s hotly-contested opening match. According to the schedules of the competition Horseed will take on Dekedda on Sunday. This is will be the sole Sunday match shown in the fixtures.

Shafi’i Mohyaddin Abokar is the NewsBlaze Somalia reporter. Shafi’i has extensive experience in journalism, international relations, and football management. He is the founder of Somali Sports Press Association, a long-time sports journalist and a member of the International Sports Press Association.

Shafi’i has a Master’s Degree in international Relations obtained at De Montfort University in Leicester and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Multimedia journalism from the University of Northampton. The photo shows Shafi’i in action while at CAF Centre of Excellence in Cameroon.