Somalia win stadium reconstruction
© FIFA.com

For the first time since early 1980s, Somalia's oldest football stadium is being rebuilt under the 'Win in Africa with Africa' project funded by FIFA. A small ceremony marked the commencement of the reconstruction work, and boasted the presence of Somali government ministers, Mogadishu's deputy mayor, most of Somali sporting leaders, former players and other guests.

Somali Football Federation general secretary, Abidi Qani Said Arab, who first spoke at the ceremony, said the SFF has long been struggling to beautify the stadium, and finally the goal has been realised. "It was in January 2006 when we asked FIFA to help us repair the stadium and since then the process has been continuing," he said. "We are more grateful to FIFA."

A former national team player, Mr. Baskuwaale, now in his 70s, was honorably hosted to come to the platform and give details about the history of Banadir Stadium, as he was one of the first Somali team to exhibit in the Stadium after the end of its construction in 1956. "It was the first international-style football site we had ever seen, late in the 1950s and early in the 1960s this was one of the loveliest stadiums in Africa," he said.

SFF president, Said Mahmoud Nur, told the jubilant participants the long-term history will mention what the SFF, with the help of FIFA, is doing. "We are thanking FIFA for its consistent help and encouragement of Somali football," he said.

"I and SFF leaders are very fortunate, because this huge job coincides with our term in office" said Somalia's minister of youth and sport, Ahmed Abdi salaam Hajji Aden, who pledged that his government and SFF will also work to reconstruct the Chinese-built Olympic village, which is currently a military base for Ethiopian forces backing the Somali government.

On behalf of Somali government, he thanked FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and his organisation for always helping to develop Somali football. "Our hands already learned to destroy, we have to forget the past and learn to rebuild."

Others who spoke during the ceremony include Somalia's first vice-president Aden Hajji Yabarow, former national team captain Said Jama Qoorsheel, Mogadishu's deputy mayor Mohamed Osman Ali, who in particular promised that his administration will provide every needed assistance such as security and logistical support during the construction work.