In Somalia, women defy strict rules to play football

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Somali football players of Golden Girls Football Center, Somalia’s first female soccer club, attend their training session at Toyo stadium in Mogadishu, on March 5, 2018. (AFP/Mohamed Abdiwahab)
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Somali football players of Golden Girls Football Center, Somalia’s first female soccer club, attend their training session at Toyo stadium in Mogadishu, on March 5, 2018. The sight of young women playing football is highly unusual in Somalia, due to societal pressures as well as fear of Al-Shabab. The Golden Girls Football Center which was founded by local NGO in 2017 and currently has about 60 players, has aim to provide opportunities for Somali women to play football hoping to encourage them, in the future, to be national women’s football team players. (AFP/Mohamed Abdiwahab)
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Somali football players of Golden Girls Football Centre, Somalia's first female soccer club, attend their training session at Toyo stadium in Mogadishu, on March 5, 2018. The sight of young women playing football is highly unusual in Somalia, due to societal pressures as well as fear of Al-Shabaab. The Golden Girls Football Centre which was founded by local NGO in 2017 and currently has about 60 players, has aim to provide opportunities for Somali women to play football hoping to encourage them, in the future, to be national women’s football team players. (AFP/Mohamed Abdiwahab)
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Aisha Alli, 25, a Somali football player of Golden Girls Football Center, Somalia’s first female soccer club, watches a match during a training session at Toyo stadium in Mogadishu, on March 5, 2018. The sight of young women playing football is highly unusual in Somalia, due to societal pressures as well as fear of Al-Shabab. The Golden Girls Football Center which was founded by local NGO in 2017 and currently has about 60 players, has aim to provide opportunities for Somali women to play football hoping to encourage them, in the future, to be national women’s football team players. (AFP/Mohamed Abdiwahab)
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Somali football players of Golden Girls Football Center, Somalia’s first female soccer club, attend their training session at Toyo stadium in Mogadishu, on March 5, 2018. The sight of young women playing football is highly unusual in Somalia, due to societal pressures as well as fear of Al-Shabab. The Golden Girls Football Center which was founded by local NGO in 2017 and currently has about 60 players, has aim to provide opportunities for Somali women to play football hoping to encourage them, in the future, to be national women’s football team players. (AFP/Mohamed Abdiwahab)
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Somali football players of Golden Girls Football Center, Somalia’s first female soccer club, attend their training session at Toyo stadium in Mogadishu, on March 5, 2018. The sight of young women playing football is highly unusual in Somalia, due to societal pressures as well as fear of Al-Shabab. (AFP/Mohamed Abdiwahab)
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Somali football players of Golden Girls Football Center, Somalia’s first female soccer club, drink water during their training session at Toyo stadium in Mogadishu, on March 5, 2018. The sight of young women playing football is highly unusual in Somalia, due to societal pressures as well as fear of Al-Shabab. The Golden Girls Football Center which was founded by local NGO in 2017 and currently has about 60 players, has aim to provide opportunities for Somali women to play football hoping to encourage them, in the future, to be national women’s football team players. (AFP/Mohamed Abdiwahab)
Updated 21 March 2018
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In Somalia, women defy strict rules to play football

MOGADISHU: Shortly after sunrise, a group of young women arrives at a football pitch in Mogadishu, where they shrug off their hijabs — some changing underneath the billowing veil — to reveal their team kit.
Young Somali men stand nearby, some disapproving but all watching closely, as the women jog up and down, dribble a worn-out ball between colorful cones and do sit-ups, less than 200 meters (656 feet) from a heavily guarded security checkpoint.
The sight of young women playing football is highly unusual in Somalia, due to societal pressures as well as fear of Al-Shabab.
The Al-Qaeda linked Islamist group launches regular attacks in Mogadishu and considers forms of entertainment, such as football, to be evil, worse still if women are involved.
“It is obvious that we are scared despite the fact that we put on heavy clothes over our shorts and T-shirts (until) we get to the pitch. It is very difficult to walk normally with sports clothes — we never wear sports clothing in society,” said Hibaq Abdukadir, 20, one of the footballers.
She is among 60 girls, who have signed up to train at the Golden Girls Center in Mogadishu, Somalia’s first female soccer club.
Mohamed Abukar Ali, the 28-year-old co-founder of the center, said he was inspired to create the club after he realized that Somalia had no female footballers.
“We are... trying to make these girls the first Somali female football professionals,” he said.
However this is not an easy task.
“When the girls have to attend training sessions, we have to organize to pick them up and bring them here and back home after the session because they are girls and we think about their security,” said Ali.
“There are so many challenges, from security to lack of resources... but that will not deter our ambition to establish female football clubs in this country,” he said. “We believe it is the right time and we should have the courage to think differently.”
Many of the girls who have joined the club said they had always wanted to try playing football but never had the opportunity.
“I have been playing football for seven months, but my family has only known about it for two months,” said Sohad Mohamed, 19.
“I used to dodge my mother about where I was going because she would not allow me to play football, but at least my mum is okay with it now, even though the rest of my family is not happy.”
In Somalia, it is taboo for women to appear in public dressed in shorts, trousers or T-shirts, with Islamic scholars saying sports clothing is not appropriate Islamic dress for women.
The players wear tights underneath their baggy shorts, and cover their hair, but still face criticism for their dress.
“I come to watch them train but frankly speaking, I would not be happy to see my sister doing it, this is not good in society’s eyes because they look naked,” said Yusuf Abdirahman, who lives near the football field.
Mohamed Yahye, another onlooker, is happy to see women playing football but is also concerned about how they are dressed.
“I think there is nothing wrong with women playing football, the only thing they should change is the dress code, they need to wear something that is not slim-fitting. But as long as their body is not seen, they are in line with the Islamic dress codes,” he said.
However the Golden Girls are not fazed.
“My ambition is so high that I aim for the same progress as those female footballers who play for Barcelona,” said Abdukadir.


Jurgen Klopp tells Liverpool to beware of Bayern Munich ahead of Champions League clash

Updated 19 February 2019
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Jurgen Klopp tells Liverpool to beware of Bayern Munich ahead of Champions League clash

  • Reds boss worried about resurgent German giants ahead of second-round first-leg clash.
  • Bayern defender Joshua Kimmich claims Liverpool are the favorites.

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp has warned his Liverpool side they will have to be at their very best if they are to beat Bayern Munich.
The Reds head into the Champions League clash as slight favorites after months at the top of the Premier League. But having drawn the German giants in the second round, Klopp has told his players they have to keep their feet on the ground worthy could end up out of the competition before it really gets going.
“It’ll be very tough,” there Liverpool manager said.
“(Bayern are) only two points off Dortmund in the domestic league and have been consistent finalists and semifinalists.
“They’re a world class team but at the same time we’re confident we can cause them problems.
“They’ve got world class players so we know how difficult it will be.
“Everyone has to be at 100 percent otherwise we’ll get nothing from the game.
“Having said that we have confidence we have the ability to hurt them, and it’s up to us to show that.”

After a tough start to the season Bayern are up to second in the Bundesliga. 


Liverpool went al the way to the final last year, before losing to Real Madrid. But the momentum created by that surprise run has been maintained in the Premier League and another trip to the Champions League knockout stages.
Bayern currently lie second in the Bundesliga and are starting to look like their old levels agains after a tough start to the season. For Klopp, who managed Dortmund before arriving at Anfield, that could spell trouble for the Reds.
“After six years of pretty much dominating the league it was clear this year was going to be a tougher situation.
“It’s actually still the same, being at the top of the league and still in the last-16 of the Champions League.
“It’s a normal situation with a high quality team.
“Munich’s situation, from my point of view, makes them even more dangerous and even more of a threat from my point of view.
“This is a competition, in Europe, where they always do well.”
For the Germans the role of underdogs suits them perfectly. At least that is according to Joshua Kimmich.
The defender said: “Liverpool are the favorites.
“They have lost one league game all season and have let in only 15 goals. But when you look at us, we are not as consistent as before.”
Before a ball has been kicked Bayern did receive some good news. Winger Franck Ribery was originally left out of the squad to play at Anfield and did not fly with his teammates. But after becoming a father, the Frenchman has now decided to join up with the squad and will be available for selection. One man who definitely will not make the pitch is Jerome Boateng. The central defender is suffering from a stomach virus.
The Bavarians will also have to wait until Tuesdays to determine whether winger Kingsley Coman will be able to play after picking up an ankle injury on Friday.
The Frenchman scored twice but was injured in the final stages of their 3-2 win at Augsburg.

KEY MAN — ROBERTO FIRMINO 

Of Liverpool’s brilliant attacking trio the Brazilian is perhaps the most underrated and important. When he plays well the Reds usually do likewise. He links up the play well, settling up as many goals as he scores. Liverpool will be hoping he turns up with his A-game tonight, because if he does Bayern Munich could be in for a  long night. 

ARAB NEWS PREDICTS

For once Bayern are not having it all their own way in the Bundesliga. But they are improving and giving Borussia Dortmund something to think about in the race for the title. But home advantage will be key and a resurgent Reds will prove too strong for a Bayern defence that has, on occasions this campaign, looked less than watertight. The only question is can Liverpool get a decisive lead and put the tie to bed before the second leg?