Burhakaba, located in the Bay Region of Somalia, endured over two decades of civil conflict, suffering at the hands of clan militias. The conflict between clans and religious groups left the city’s infrastructure and public facilities in total collapse, including sports facilities. During the civil war in town, the clan militias forbade soccer and prohibited youth from engaging in sports. Despite liberation from clan militias in March 2009, youth found few opportunities to engage in sports or recreational activities, in part, because of the poor state of the local soccer field. As a result, Abdiyow Enow Manur youth fell victim to the recruitment of clan militias and other violent groups.
Due to lack of recreational activities, my children and many other youth were at risk of being radicalized by tripe militias, Youth had no hope for a better future because they do not have anywhere to work, or activities to keep them busy. The only alternative for youth was to join militias, and many did.
Enow Manur , a parent, says.
In a planning session held in June 2015, community members and local officials identified the lack of healthy alternatives for youth as a driver of instability. PASOS responded by rehabilitating the local soccer field in order to counter violent for militias, reduce crime, and provide youth with constructive social activities.
Completed in 2016, today the soccer field provides youth with healthy alternatives.
In the past, the only choice we had was to join clan militias groups or criminal gangs. The construction of the soccer field enabled us to engage in healthy social activities. It provided us with a better alternative to spend our spare time on. Now youth are no longer interested in illegal activities to occupy their time. Instead, we are focused on playing soccer.
Zubeyr Ibrahim Sheikh, a 23-year-old, says.
Playing alongside other youth created a strong bond between us. My teammates are like my own brothers now. We hold each other accountable and look out for each other, so that none of us engage in any harmful activities or crime.
Jamaal Nur Hassan, another 26-year-old, added.
Furthermore, the soccer field has reduced parents’ fears of their children joining clan militias and other groups.
I used to worry that my children would join clan militias groups any time they went outside because I saw many of their peers doing the same. After the construction of the soccer field, my fears diminished tremendously. I now trust that my children’s time is spent at school during the morning, and playing soccer during the afternoon.
Enow Manur, a parent, says.
PASOS has constructed, rehabilitated, and supported 100 football players and sports initiatives that serve more than 200 at-risk youth across Burhakaba town Bay region. Support for youth sports contributes to PASOS stabilization goals in Burhakaba by providing healthy alternatives to violent militias, promoting community cohesion, and strengthening citizens’ trust in local government.