somalia:Thriving sport shows Somalia is back on track, says President, * somalia, World News and Opinion.
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somalia:Thriving sport shows Somalia is back on track, says President,

19 November 2013 President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud today kicked off a football match in Mogadishu in Somalia’s newly launched Serie A league. In a landmark visit to the recently renovated Benadir Stadium in the Abdulaziz district of Mogadishu, the President watched the Elman against Jenyo fixture in Somalia’s Serie A, loosely modeled on the Italian league. After meeting the players from the two sides, the President said the football stadium was a powerful symbol of the transformation in Somalia from terrorism to peace. “I salute you players here today as living proof of the great progress Somalia has made in recent times,” the President said. “Only two years ago this stadium was an Al Shabaab militia base from which atrocities were planned and launched. Today it is back in the right hands, allowing young Somali men and women to play the world’s most popular sport entirely peacefully.” Sport was to be enjoyed in its own right, the President said, but it also had a vital role to play in peacebuilding, development and integration. “You are role models for the new Somalia,” the President said. “I applaud your professionalism and commitment. Somalis, like people all over the world, love sport. Playing here today sends a message to the world that we are back on track doing things the rest of the world considers normal. That is our achievement here today and I thank you for making it happen.” The President paid tribute to the “heroic efforts” of the Somali Football Federation and FIFA, who together had brought football back to the heart of the Somali capital after renovating the stadium. The President also wished the national Somali football team well ahead of the CECAFA tournament later this month for the top teams from Central and East Africa. **ENDS** Malik Abdalla

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