Five months on from organising a training course for Somalia’s coaches in Djibouti, FIFA welcomed the country’s referees back for a course designed to hone their skills.

Launched in 2006, the Win in Africa with Africa programme will run right up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. And with the big event almost upon us, the last few initiatives are in the process of being rolled out. Owing to its problems on the ground, Somalia is one of the last countries that has been able to organise the coaching, refereeing and administrative courses provided for by the programme.

Thanks to the efforts made by the Somali and Djiboutian football authorities and the cooperation of FIFA, a coaching course was organised in Djibouti last October, with 29 coaches from Somalia attending.

Earlier this month it was the turn of 26 of the east African country’s referees to visit its northern neighbour for a FIFA Refereeing Assistance Programme course supervised by FIFA Referee Development Officer Ahmed El Shenawi. On hand to support him were the instructors Joseph Wellington, a refereeing specialist from Ghana, and Boubaker Hannachi, a fitness coach from Tunisia.

Blatter is leading the global game into unchartered territory.

Said Mahmoud Nur, Head of the Somali FA.

Attending the opening ceremony were a number of guests from the Somali and Djiboutian football families, along with the presidents of the two national associations, the general secretary of the Somali FA, the adviser to the Djiboutian Minister for Sport and the general secretary of the Local Olympic Committee. Their presence helped underline the enthusiasm for the courses in both countries.

The head of the Somali FA Said Mahmoud Nur took the opportunity to thank FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter for having made the course possible, and highlighted the importance of such initiatives in developing the game. 

“Asia and Africa had never before had the chance to stage the FIFA World Cup finals,” he said. “Yet thanks to the FIFA President, Asia enjoyed that honour in 2002 and our continent will be hosting the event this year. Blatter is leading the global game into unchartered territory.”

After thanking his Somali colleagues, his Djibouti counterpart Mr Houssein said, “A lot of people think that Somalia is behind everywhere else but that is not correct. I know Somali football very well, and I can tell you that in terms of promoting football Somalia is keeping pace with the rest of the world.”