SOMALI FOOTBALL HISTORY
From the Colonial Era (1875 -1960)
Somalia is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya on its southwest, the Gulf of Aden with Yemen on its north, the Indian Ocean at its east, and Ethiopia to the west. Football was introduced to Somalia by the colonial powers around during the early 19 th century. The game was initially played by the Europeans who later introduced it to the indigenous community. Somalia was colonised by the British in the North, Italy in the south and the French controlled the French Somali land which is current nation of Djibouti. The British and Italian protectorates gained their independence and united to form the nation of Somalia .
The game grew more popular in the south then the North due to the deeper interaction, and number of European nationals in the region. The presence of the British was mainly in Hargeisa, while the Italians resided in greater numbers at the fertile area surrounding the rivers Juba, Shebelle, and the capital city of Mogadishu. Football teams were established at Kismayo, Jamame, Merca, Mogadishu, and few other villages, these teams served solid bases for the further development of football after the independence.
The aim of the colonial masters was purely for the entertainment of their nationals, and not to benefit the native population. The teams formed during the forties and fifties were mainly Europeans, who left after independence. There were no facilities, or organisation structure built. There were no clubs except those of the Italian national in the south and the British in the north mainly introducing their favourite sport. A typical example is the introduction of field hockey in the northern Somalia, today there is no team, or field to play hockey the purpose was solely for the enjoyment and entertainment of the colonial masters.
The first Somali Football teams were established around the 1940s, the competitions were not well organised, but these activities are credited for the initiating of the Somali liberation movement. The Somali Youth League was an organisation created by thirteen young men; Football was then one of their common interests. SYL has established a strong team from the locals to play the Italian teams; this team has to change its name to Bondhere, later and won the first competitions held under the Somali management in 1958 when the first Somali commissioner for sport was established.
The first Somali National Football team travelled to Mombasa, Kenya around 1957/8 and lost by five goals to nil (5-0).
Pre-Revolutionary era (1960 – 1969)
After the freedom and the unification of North British Somaliland and the South Italian Somaliland to create the unified nation of Somalia , sports and football was not one of the major burning issues, nor was youth and sports still all the sports activities were under the sports commissioner. All the teams were amateur and no player was paid to play. Some of the first teams established were the transport team (Autoparco), Public Works Department (LLPP/ Jeenyo), Boondheere(previously known as SYL “leego”), Shibis, Hamarweyne, wardhiigley. These teams later changed names. The strongest teams emerging were the police and the military teams. The government of the time realised the conflict and the tension when those teams were playing and has changed the names of teams few times until they were combined to form HORSEED one of the most successful clubs in Somalia .
Football was played by the students representing their schools, communities based on their district of residence and the army teams, there were no teams owned by private companies or individuals.
The quality of coaching and officiating improved a great deal during this era, and the fan base has greatly increased. The first Stadium (Stadium Coni) was further improved. The national team participated in the east and central African games, the African Cup, and the world cup. The team was did not achieve accolades, but demonstrated beautiful technique and tactics.
All the players at this era were strictly amateur in nature so the participation was limited to very few years. Mass participation was limited and teams easily went out of business due to the lack of funding. The army team won the championship in 1967 and the Police team won at 1968.
The Revolutionary Era (1970 – 1990)
The Bloodless revolution carried by the army at 21 st October 1969, made huge changes in the aim and direction of Somali Sports. The government dissolved the sports commission and appointed a minister in charge of youth, sports, and work, and later solely for youth and sports.
The government agencies with large resources were ordered to build different sports teams. All clubs created football first then branched into other sports. To ensure the quality of the teams a second and third division teams were created. This era was the best for Somali spots in general and football in common. Apart from the premiere club competitions there were inter scholastic competitions that started from local to national champions. The most popular football competitions were the yearly regional competitions which were established in 1971.
The Somali National team was well funded and participated in all zone, African, and international competitions. A number of trophies were won but the national team ranking improved. The Somali junior National team lost to Nigeria in the second leg after they won their home fixture that was the peak of the achievements of Somali football.
The among the many mistakes committed all Somali players were declined to join foreign teams, this has caused a mass exodus of players to Gulf States, Saudi Arabia and around the world seeking for better opportunities. The quality deteriorated after 1987 and tension that caused the civil war was obvious and in the air.
It is worth mentioning that the first bullets were fired at the national Football Stadium “Mogadishu Stadium” during the opening a football match Somali has not seen peace since that day in 1990. Football is a game loved by all the generations, long before the television reached Somalia many people listened to the international radio waves to follow the results of the world tournaments.
Somalia Champions and championships
The first national championship tournament was held at 1967, however there were prior competitions held but were not later recognised as championships. The teams Police FC, Hogga FC, and Horseed FC are all interrelated. The information below is accumulated from different sources. There are years when the competition was not held and in one year it was abandoned due to the wars. The competition level was mediocre after 1989, players from only one city participated.
The only champions on record are below from 1967 to 2007
1967 Somali Police Mogadishu) [aka Booliska]
1968 Hoga (Mogadishu) [aka Xoogga]
1969 Lavori Publici (Mogadishu) [aka JeenyoLLPP"]
1970 Lavori Publici (Mogadishu) [aka JeenyoLLPP"]
1971 Lavori Publici (Mogadishu) aka Jeenyo LLPP"]
1971/72 Horseed FC (Mogadishu)
1972/73 Horseed FC (Mogadishu)
1973/74 unknown (Horseed?)
1975 Mogadishu Municipality aka Muqdisho]
1976/77 Horseed FC (Mogadishu)
1977/78 Horseed FC (Mogadishu)
1978/79 Horseed FC (Mogadishu)
1979/80 Horseed FC (Mogadishu)
1980/81 Lavori Publici (Mogadishu[aka Jeenyo "LLPP"]
1982 Wagad (Mogadishu) [newly promoted]
1983 National Printing Agency (Mogadishu) [aka Madbacadda Qaranka]
1984 Marine Club (Mogadishu) [aka Badda]
1985 Wagad (Mogadishu) [aka FIAT)
1986 Mogadishu Municipality [aka Muqdisho]
1987 Wagad (Mogadishu)
1988 Wagad (Mogadishu)
1989 Mogadishu Municipality [aka Muqdisho]
1990 Gadiidka [aka Autobarko]
1991-93 not played (?) due to civil wars.
1994* Morris Supplies (Mogadishu) [aka Shirkadda Morris]
1996-97 not played (?)
1998 Ports Authority [aka Dekedaha Naadiga or Dekadda "Badda"]
1999 Banaadir Telecom (Mogadishu)
2000 Elman FC (Mogadishu)
2001 Elman FC (Mogadishu)
2002 Elman FC (Mogadishu)
2003 Elman FC (Mogadishu)
2004-06 Banaadir Telecom (Mogadishu)
2007 Authority [aka Dekedaha Naadiga or Dekadda "Badda"]
Number of Titles (31; 4 missing)
6 Horseed FC (Mogadishu)
4 Elman FC (Mogadishu)
4 Lavori Publici (Mogadishu)
4 Wagad (Mogadishu)
3 Mogadishu Municipality
2 Banaadir Telecom (Mogadishu) formerly called Conis]
1 Dekadaha (Mogadishu) [aka Ports Authority]
1 Hoga (Mogadishu)
1 Marine Club (Mogadishu) [related to Dekadaha?]
1 Morris Supplies (Mogadishu)
1 National Printing Agency (Mogadishu)
1 Somali Police (Mogadishu)
The Stateless era (1990-2008)
In the last eighteen years there was no central government; millions of people have been internally displaced or migrated to other countries. There have been many mediations and reconciliation meetings but there is no peace till this day, and the situation is deteriorating daily. Famine and disease are abundant every where. Although the picture looks very bleak there is hope. Another obstacle was that Farah Addo, who was the president of the Somali Football Federation and also served as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) vice-president and the chairman of the Somalia Olympic Committee, was banned from international football by FIFA in July 2004 after being found guilty of corruption. The pan was reversed and Mr Addo was has had his 10-year suspension lifted by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, April 2008. Farah poised to reclaim his posts.
- The Somali Diaspora organise yearly football competitions, these are improving in quality and increasing in participation.
- The increasing knowledge base will improve the quality of service when peace comes.
- There are some and increasing number of people planning to go back when the conditions improve. These skilled people will share their experiences.
- There is an effort to organise and unite all the Somali Football stakeholders, to resist the generation of the warlord mentality.
The history is behind us but what did we learn in football terms from the thirty years of peace and twenty years of Civil war. I will only mention few important points.
- The Somali people are generally tall but slim, technically sound the style of play usually suited the local competitions but produced limited results at the international arena that is mainly to poor strength, fitness, and tactical preparation.
- The management of the federation and the clubs were nominated by the government and could be termed as inappropriate as there were no standards or required training, and later a war lord mentality has emerged. The lack of understanding by the international organisations is allowing corruption and embezzlement and fraud.
- Although there few well trained coaches the training for coaches was few and far apart, playing football at a certain time was the only pre requisite.
- The concentration of the clubs at less then 1% of the geographical area excluded many communities from developing the grassroots football.
- The participation of the disabled footballers is non existent. There are larger numbers of disabled people due to the anarchy and wars, these people are deprived from participation in the beautiful game of football.
- Ladies (Female) football was not encouraged, although some girls have demonstrated ability and skills. Women are marginalized and are not members of the national federation.
- To make a change in the statuesque there is a need for using a new and different approach by involving the educated.
Written by: Xasan M. Faarax (John)
kubadda.com - London
Other posts by H Farah