In another sign that something approaching normality is returning in the Somali capital, the Somalia Premier League has officially reopened in Mogadishu.
Huge numbers of spectators turned up at the world-class stadium to watch Somali Premier League football for the first time in almost two decades.
Top government officials, football federation executive committee members and prominent business-people attended a colourful ceremony at the Banadir Stadium to mark the relaunch of the country’s Premier League.
Vendors are moving back into the central market, and people dine in outdoor cafes. But the risk of violence remains high. Bombs are detonated regularly.
Although the risk of violence remains high, and bombs are detonated regularly, football is a tool for peace-building in Somalia, said Somali Football Federation Secretary General Abdi qani Said Arab.
“The message is football is the only tool to use, people to bring together and my message is football is peace,” he told Radio France Internationale. “I am calling all the people, love football, come and see and to support your team and watch the game friendly and disciplinary.”
“The atmosphere is amazing, the games are good, every team is playing it’s limit, I think the league is very good league,” commented Marcel Samson from neighbouring Kenya, one of two foreign players in the Premier League match. ”
The Banadir stadium was recently renovated by Fifa. Artificial turf has been laid, new stands have been constructed and VIP boxes installed.
The match ended with Heegan beating Gaadiidka 3-2. Even though Gaadiidka lost, the atmosphere in the stadium was described as being overwhelmingly positive.