4 January 2013

Somalia: Mogadishu Looks to Future, Renovates Sports Stadiums

Mogadishu — Sports facilities in Mogadishu are currently undergoing renovation following years of misuse and disrepair.

The Somali Football Federation (SFF), with funding from the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), has started renovating Konis Stadium in Mogadishu's Abdulaziz District.

Konis Stadium is one of several major sports facilities in Mogadishu that had been severely damaged in the past 20 years. In the past year, the stadium came to symbolise hope and a return to normalcy in the city hosting events such as the one-year anniversary of al-Shabaab's withdrawal from the city on August 6th and the training of the first Somali Olympic team to participate in the games in years.

FIFA sent an engineer from the Netherlands to head the renovation project at Konis Stadium, according to SFF chairman Abdiqani Said Arab.

Artificial football turf donated by FIFA is now being laid in the stadium, he told Sabahi.

The total cost of renovating Konis Stadium has not been determined yet, he said, because construction is ongoing. He said the SFF will make an announcement of the costs after the renovations are completed in early January.

"We would like to renovate all sports stadiums in the country, but we cannot do that due to lack of funding," Arab said. "We recently renovated the Ex-Lujino basketball stadium in Abdulaziz District. The renovation cost was more than $10,000, which was donated by Hormuud Telecommunications Company."

Arab said they are seeking donations from companies and organisations to help raise funds and renovate other sports facilities in the city.

Haji Aweys Sheikh Adow, deputy chairman of Wadajir District Football Association and a retired football player, said he is happy with the resurgence of sports in Somalia and the renovation of stadiums in Benadir, adding that his association is engaged in similar efforts.

"We applaud the Somali Football Federation for undertaking the effort to restore the former glory of our stadiums," Adow told Sabahi.

He said the renovation projects are a major step forward, finally enabling Somali sports to regain their former glory and improve in the coming years.

Dadir Amin, a player for the Somali National Team and the Benadir Telecom team, said, "I am overjoyed because I never thought I would play in a stadium with turf while still in my country. As you know, our Konis Stadium is now equipped with the appropriate turf for playing and the plan is to open it soon so we can play there for the upcoming Somali league."

Amin said until now Somali players competing abroad have usually lost games because they were not used to playing on a field with turf. Once Konis Stadium is open for business, he said he hopes that will change, providing local athletes with an environment similar to what they would face in international competitions.

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