Communities in Marka are using football to engage in mediation and promote reconciliation

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Members of two rival clans from Marka, in Lower Shabelle region of Somalia, who have fought each other for years, recently set aside their differences and unified in a game of football.

The Bimal and Abirigidir clansmen held a game at a football pitch in Ceeljale on 28th September.

The pitch was constructed by locals, with the help of the Civil Military Coordination Team of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), who worked with the community to clear and level an open field, donated by an elder.

Rival clans agreed to have their first football match pitting Marka Ayub football team against Ceeljaale football team. The game ended in a nil-nil draw.

The match followed mediation and negotiation meetings spearheaded by the AMISOM Civil-Military Coordination team and Colonel Bonny Ogwal, the Commander of the Ugandan Battle Group XXII in charge of the area.

“We undertake such community initiatives as part of our continuous effort to build and sustain relations with the local population that we work with in ensuring security. The football match was made possible because of the relative peace attained in Somalia today, allowing the population to engage in social activities and sports,” Major Robert Kamara, the AMISOM Ugandan Contingent Spokesperson.

The idea of a football match was mooted by the local administration of Lower Shabelle, who requested AMISOM for support, to clear an area and set up a football ground, after a local elder donated part of his unused land in support of the sports project.

The local community joined efforts to create a sports facility. With AMISOM’s support, they used bulldozers to level the surface to create ideal football pitch conditions.

Football is a hugely popular sport in Somalia and is commonly used to mobilize the youth in the promotion of peace activities.