Friday 12 November 2021, 12:00

Unleashing youth potential at heart of FIFA mission to Djibouti

Football’s role as a vehicle to positively advance the lives of young people and their country was central to discussions with football stakeholders and members of government during a FIFA delegation visit to Djibouti.

Djibouti and Djibouti City, was the base for a four-day mission for the delegation led by Secretary General Fatma Samoura, to meet with players, supporters, members of leagues and clubs, staff at the Djiboutian Football Federation (FdF), government ministers and the President of the Djiboutian National Olympic Committee.

Following a warm and traditional welcome in traditional Djiboutian style from the FdF and President Souleiman Hassan Waberi, the FIFA delegation kicked off its itinerary with a meeting with Colonel Zakira Hassan Aden, himself a former football player, who was keen to stress his support for football in the country and for the national team Les Requins (The Sharks).

After meeting the Djiboutian national squad, the delegation proceeded to a speak with the FdF Executive Committee (ExCo) for discussions on how best to develop Djiboutian football for boys and particularly girls, in addition to technical development, recruiting and training of trainers, referee training and expanding of competitions. Fatma Samoura said: “I have seen the passion, commitment and drive of FdF President Waberi to expand football in terms of skill, expertise and exposure to continental competitive fixtures, but most of all I have seen his commitment to improving access to football for girls and women. I commend his excellent work hand in hand with stakeholders like la Gendarmerie Nationale to open up more opportunities for players in Djibouti.” There were productive meetings with members of the FdF team, including President of the Women’s Football Commission LCL, Amina Mohamed Moussa as well as conversations with players from U13 to U17 level. There was also a visit to the site of a building that will be dedicated to women’s football beside the main FdF Academy.

The FIFA Secretary General, President of the Djiboutian Olympic Committee and President of the FdF’s Women’s Football Commission took part in a symbolic laying of the first bricks of the building in the presence of members of girls youth football teams. “The welcome I received from the young ladies here is outstanding,” said Fatma Samoura. “They are excited about the potential of the new dedicated building for women’s football in Douada. I’m delighted to have had two powerful advocates for women in sport and women in football by my side today for this momentous occasion- my sister and friend Aïcha and LCL Amina. Both are trailblazers in their own right for Djiboutian women which makes this moment even more special.” Key among talks with government officials, ministers and holders of key positions within Djiboutian football was a drive towards gender parity. Among the participants were Djiboutian Minister of National Education and Vocational Training, Moustapha Mahamoud, Ilyas Dawaleh, Djiboutian Minister of Economy and Finance in Charge of Industry, Minister for Women and the Family, Mouna Osman, Mayor of Djibouti City, Fatouma Awaleh Osman, Secretary of State in charge of Sports, Hassan Mohamed Kamil, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahamoud Ali Youssouf and Prime Minister of Djibouti, Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed.

During talks, the FIFA Secretary General also stressed the role national teams play in representing their countries which is a source of national pride and inspiration. In this vein she underlined the need for a more robust financial commitment from the national authorities for the costs associated with the travel and transport of its national squad, Les Requins. The upgrading of the facilities of the El Hadj Hassan Gouled Aptidon Stadium, which cannot host international matches due to not fulfilling the required international norms and standards, was also discussed. Football’s ability to empower and inspire was the main topic of conversation in addition to the Minister’s support for Les Requins and her desire to see a national women’s team of Les Gazelles, reach FIFA Women’s World Cup glory. At the conclusion of the visit, Samoura stated: “Djibouti is a model in Africa in terms of female leadership, the key role that women play in Djiboutian society and of course the importance of investing in girls and women. “We want to see the national authorities harness the momentum of the great steps taken by the FdF and its President Souleiman Waberi to expand the eco system of women’s football here in Djibouti, so that national authorities can provide investment directed towards building capacity, infrastructure and expertise that will nurture talent, enhance players’ and football officials’ skills and hopefully, one day take Les Gazelles to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”