2014_05_07_SomP_Football07 May 2014 – The Galkayo Satellite Office (GSO) and the Mobile Audio-Visual Unit of the Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC), a partner of Interpeace, recently organized a football match in the Puntland state of Somalia. Hundreds of spectators including young fans, women, children, and the elderly came to watch the friendly match held in mid April. The game was played between two local clubs, Star United and Cosmos FC, based in the Galdogob district of Puntland.

Creating community cohesion

Prior to the match, footlball jerseys and equipment were provided to the teams and referees by PDRC’s Satellite Office in Galkayo. This initiative supported and encouraged the youth and sports community of Galdogob. The goal of this event was to provide young people with a positive outlet as an alternative to violent activities and ideologies that have been prevalent in the region.

The President of Puntland, his Excellency Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas, attended the football match along with a large government delegation including ministers, members of parliament and commanders of the military and police forces. The event allowed the President of Puntland greater interaction with the local community, who greatly appreciated engaging with their leader outside of meeting rooms and conference halls.

A new stadium

The community request for the construction of a new football stadium was granted just before the kick-off of the match. A new stadium will generate an environment of social interaction which furthers the peace prospects of the region. The football match created a festive and interactive atmosphere as the President spent time with the youth of Puntland. Investing in the future of young people with a new sports facility will help forge strong and enduring community bonds.

Letting community voices be heard

A community forum for civil society was also organized by PDRC to foster discourse on issues relating to security and governance in nearby Galkayo, a divided town that has seen great tension between communities. Over one hundred prominent community members attended, representing civil society, traditional and religious leaders, business people, media, women and youth.

The forum was very interactive, allowing the President and the public a chance to exchange views and seek common solutions to local problems. This was the first such meeting ever held for Galkayo residents to publicly interact with such a high profile government official. The forum generated overwhelming enthusiasm among participants both from the community and the government. It is an important step towards greater input on the part of the public and greater responsiveness on the part of the government.