Jowhar Holds First Women Basketball Tournament in Decades

Two girls team battled it out in the first basketball match in Jowhar in decades. The tournament was held to celebrate the 72nd Somali Youth League Day, in reference to the first Somali political party that agitated for the country’s independence. ©IOM 2015

The civil war in Somalia destroyed key public infrastructure facilities such as sport and recreation centers. Without these centers, the youth did not have safe spaces to meet and engage each other. To address this issue, IOM completed the rehabilitation of the Jowhar District Community Center’s basketball court in April 2015.

On May 14, the district held its first girls basketball tournament, with the attendance of more than 350 members of the community. The tournament was held to commemorate the Somali Youth League Day, a youth-driven political party established in May 15, 1943, that played a key role in the nation’s struggle for independence. “I am very happy that a sports activity, and especially for girls, is being organized in Jowhar for the first time in 20 years,” said Ahmed Burale*, coach for the Ladies team from Johwar. Before the war, Ahmed played for different Somali basketball teams, and represented the national team in countries such as Jordan and Egypt.

Halima Muse*, a 16-year-old basketball player said she was delighted to be playing in front of a large crowd. “I am very delighted to be playing basketball in Jowhar. I have been practicing for some time, and today is my first time playing in such a crowded stadium. This is a great way to celebrate the Somali Youth League Day.”

The match between the ladies team from Jowhar and the ladies team from Shabelle River ended 46 to 49 points, in favor of the latter team. The rehabilitation of the Jowhar basketball court represents an important cornerstone for the youth to engage in healthy activities, and away from participating in extremism and conflict

The historic match between the ladies team from Johwar and the ladies team from Shabelle River took place in the IOM rehabilitated Jowhar basketball court. ©IOM 2015

* Names changed to protect the identity of the players and the coach