Somalians enjoy first football match at night in 30 years

Hundreds of Somalians in the capital Mogadishu trooped to the Banadir Stadium on Friday evening to witness the country’s first football match under floodlight in three decades.

The match — the final of a city-wide club tournament for 16- to 18-year-olds — took place at the Konis Stadium, which has been renovated by FIFA.

It was broadcast live on several television channels but took place under tight security because of the threat posed by the Shabaab Islamist group.

“Tonight is a historic night which people waited for more than 30 years. I tell you that Mogadishu is secure and people deserve more than this,” Mayor Tabit Abdi Mohamed said after the match, which saw Waberi beat Hodon 3-1.

“There are thousands and thousands of people who are out here tonight to watch this football game. We will continue making history.”

Since the start of the civil war, no football match has ever been played at night and the oldest stadium in the country – the Banadir Stadium – built in 1956 had been severely damaged.

FIFA came to the rescue of the sport when it funded the redevelopment of the stadium in 2009 through its Win in Africa with Africa programme.

The Banadir Stadium which has not seen renovation since the 1980s hosted for the first time the finals of a district level youth football competition on Friday night which saw about 400 young footballers compete.

The 3rd edition of the championship was won by Waaberi District football team which beat Hodan District by 3 – 1.

The stadium was full to capacity and present were members of the Somali Football Federation sports minister Khadjia Mohamed Diriye.

Somali Football Federation president, Abdiqani Said Arab, said the renovation has turned the country around and will go a long way to develop the sport, local media report.

The minister said football is the main priority of the government and they will use it “as a tool of peace building and stability”.

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