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.


Sublime Mohamed Salah leads Liverpool to stunning 5-2 win over Roma

Updated 25 April 2018
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Sublime Mohamed Salah leads Liverpool to stunning 5-2 win over Roma

  • Liverpool move onto 38 goals for this season’s competition — 11 more than any other team
  • Salah is now on 43 goals for the season in all competitions

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah put his former side Roma to the sword on Tuesday night with a scintillating performance as the Reds ran riot at Anfield, taking a commading 5-2 lead into next week’s second leg in Rome.
The Italian side had no answer to the Egyptian superstar’s sublime skill as he scored two world-class goals and set up another two for Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Firmino added the fifth as the Merseyside club romped into a 5-0 lead to put the English side within touching distance of the Champions League final.
Salah’s display was as exquisite as Roma’s defending was naive, with Liverpool scoring all of their goals in a breathtaking 33-minute spell either side of halftime amid a cauldron of noise at Anfield.
But two consolation goals in the final nine minutes from Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti has given Roma hope of recreating their heroics from the previous leg against Barcelona.
In the latest virtuoso performance of his stunning first season at Liverpool, Salah curled a shot into the top corner in the 36th minute and doubled the lead in the 45th with a dinked finish that is fast becoming his trademark. He is now on 43 goals for the season in all competitions with potentially five games left.
The Egypt forward was not finished there, taking advantage of Roma’s high defensive line to provide crosses for Mane and Firmino to score almost identical goals in the 56th and 61st minutes, respectively.
Firmino glanced home a header from James Millner’s corner in the 69th to leave Roma’s players on the floor — literally in the case of their distressed goalkeeper, Alisson.
Liverpool moved onto 38 goals for this season’s competition — 11 more than any other team — but cannot begin preparing for the final in Kiev on May 26 quite yet.
Dzeko chested down a long pass to make it 5-1 in the 81st and when Milner handled a shot from Radja Nainggolan, Perotti converted the penalty in the 89th.
Bayern Munich play Real Madrid in the other semifinal, with the first leg in Germany on Wednesday.
Roma knows all about Salah, who scored 15 goals and set up 11 more in the second of his two seasons at the Italian club before joining Liverpool for 42 million euros (then $47 million) in June.
He’s obliterating those figures at Anfield this season. His double saw him surge past Cristiano Ronaldo’s 42 goals for Manchester United in the 2007-08 season, for example.
Salah won English soccer’s Player of the Year award on Sunday. At this rate, the Ballon D’Or could be his next year.