Our second featured interview to celebrate the Somali Youth Day is with a football enthusiast Ahmed. He too, is a member of Mogadishu One Stop Youth Center, who values the space as a place to to play, learn and grow. UN-Habitat recognizes the importance of public spaces to practice sports and interact with peers and this is why:
Sixteen-year-old Jibril Kafi Ahmed is a budding soccer player, who is already making a mark in his country Somalia, despite the instability caused by years of war.
Growing up in his neighborhood, in the capital’s Yaqshid district, Ahmed was denied the opportunity for normal upbringing, as he was confined indoors, due to insecurity caused by terror group Al-Shabaab.
Sounds of gunfire and explosions were a common feature of his childhood; while the sound of a bouncing football that he so much craved was just a mirage.
The challenges of growing up in a violent environment did not dim his desire to be a soccer player. As he grew older and as the security situation in Somalia improved, he started playing soccer.
Now a member of the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’, which engages youth in sports, Ahmed finds himself in an enviable position, to advance his dreams.
The high school student, who cuts a lanky figure, says being a member of a sports team such as the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’ comes with many benefits. And so does sports, which he adds, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and is a great platform for promoting peace and unity in society.
The shy youth, who would have been lured into crime, had he not joined the Centre, is a testimony that positive living produces great dividends.
“I appeal to the youth who are with Al-Shabaab or other militant groups to quit and join the government forces”, Ahmed says, in his message to youth who have joined criminal gangs such as terror group Al Shabaab.
“I plead with them to stop harming people because the country needs them. I also plead with them to stop fighting, as it does not add value to their lives”, he says.
Since joining the ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’, Ahmed’s his life has changed for the better.
“I look forward to playing for one of the top clubs in Europe”, he concludes during an interview.
The young man is unfazed by the instability in his country and has hopes to excel as an athlete and join the hall of fame, like Somalia born Olympian gold medalist Mo Farrah.
The ‘Mogadishu One Stop Youth Centre’ is an initiative led by UN-Habitat with the Banaadir Regional Administration (BRA) as part of the Youth Employment Somalia programme.