Somalia has officially inaugurated the first ever football league for children under the age of 15, following a FIFA assistance program targeted at providing enhanced opportunities for young players.
Football has taken a back seat in recent decades due to civil war in the north-east African nation, but now a concerted development focus featuring the Somalia Football Federation (SFF) and FIFA is changing all that.
The overall scope of the FIFA support includes equipment for 10 teams of 20 players (bibs, shirts, shorts, shin guards, socks, boots and goalkeeping equipment); balls; USD $50,000; plus Youth and Refereeing coaching courses, each of which include USD $5,000 in financial support plus equipment for the participants.
The most recent beneficiaries were members of the 12 youth teams who took part in the maiden tournament, which is being managed by the SFF youth development committee and commenced on 9 September. The competition is the first to be hosted at the Somali FA’s FIFA-funded new technical centre.
“Thanks to FIFA for helping us to introduce such a beautiful football tournament for our children,” said Somali Football Federation president Abdiqani Said Arab.
The SFF president added that without the financial assistance and equipment from the world football’s governing body, the maiden league launch wouldn’t have been successful. “With the help from FIFA’s youth development programs, the youth football tournament will be organised annually,” the president said.
Young referees and coaches, who were trained under FIFA’s youth development programs, are also benefitting from participation in the tournament which will last for six months.
“One of the most important objectives for this youth tournament is to educate children through football in a bid to produce talented and young players who can represent our U-17, U-20 and go all the way to the senior national team in the near future.”