The green shoots of football return to Mogadishu

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The green shoots of football return to Mogadishu

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There is a new era of hope opening up for footballers in Somalia who are taking back sporting facilities after al-Shabaab extremists were driven out of the capital Mogadishu.

The militants, who are aligned to al-Qaeda, used to execute prisoners in the National Stadium.

Now they have gone, FIFA is helping to rebuild. Mogadishu’s Elman Football Club somehow survived two decades of bloody chaos.

Coach Yusuf Ali Noor said: “It shows how much we love sports, that despite the chaos going on around the city, and despite the field becoming a frontline, we were still training and playing matches here. Now you can see the area is calm and security is back, nothing like what it was before.”

The players have to train early to avoid the Somali heat, but for these sportsmen it is a small price to pay. Under al-Shabaab, football was banned, and playing or even watching a game could have cost them their lives.