Jointly with Qatar Charity (QC) and the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), Save the Dream has marked the completion of field activities in Garowe, State of Puntland, Somalia, wrapping up the implementation of a series of capacity-building activities within the “Saving Children’s Dreams in Somalia through Sport” project and immediately reaching more than 10,000 youth and their families in the city.
The project is part of the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) initiative jointly led by the QFFD and QC, which seeks to highlight sport as an effective tool for building societies, empowering and inspiring children and youth in less developed countries, and as a contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which recognises sport as an important enabler of sustainable development.
Developed with the institutional support of Unesco, the project aims to promote peace and reconciliation in Somalia through empowering youth and creating opportunities for vulnerable groups.
Started in November 2022, it was intended to pave the way for the launch of new and long-term programmes and initiatives aimed at enabling and inspiring young leaders through sport, as well as promoting sport as a tool for positive social change in their communities.
The initial phases started with a “Train the Trainer (TTT)” programme for local experts envisaging workshops, an interschool football tournament, sport clinics inside internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps, schools and sport facilities.
An Advanced SDP Capacity Building Programme for Stakeholders was organised for 50 stakeholders, comprising local educators, physical education teachers, community development actors, representatives from municipalities, sports and educational institutions and federations, universities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and youth leaders.
Sports materials, resources and tools were provided to local entities to support them in the organisation of future sport activities and educational programmes.
The project envisaged the organisation of the first-ever interschool football tournament in Garowe, called by locals the “Save the Dream Cup”, in full co-ordination with the municipality, schools and the overall community of Garowe.
Hosted by Gambol High School in Garowe, the tournament saw the participation of eight schools from different parts of the city.
Some 120 students from four high schools and four elementary schools in Garowe, including two schools for children from IDP camps, competed in a round-robin system.
The final match of the tournament took place at the Mire Aware Stadium of Garowe during the “Save the Dream Festival” attended by more than 10,000 people, including children, youth, IDP communities, as well as by high-level officials of Puntland State, project partners, sport testimonials and role models.
Gambol School won against Al Waha School in the high school finals while Shabeelle IDPs School defeated Jillab 2 IDPs School, bringing home the first title of the “Save the Dream Cup”.
Field activities were implemented under the oversight of Save the Dream officials, alongside Somali Women Foundation founder Suad Galow, Honey Thaljieh (Palestinian women’s national team’s first captain and ambassador of Save the Dream), and Ali Fouad, head goalkeeper coach from Aspire Academy.
Since its inception, the project has strongly benefited from the expertise provided by the implementing partners, namely the QC, QFFD and Save the Dream, as well as many other leading organisations like Unesco, Aspire Academy, Qatar University, the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflicts.
Nawaf Abdullah al-Hammadi, the chief executive’s assistant for the International Operations and Programmes Sector at the QC, said: “Qatar Charity is pleased to join forces once again with the SDP initiative’s partners to reach local communities and capitalise on the positive values of sport.”
“Sports has the unique power to bring people together, while creating safe spaces for interaction among refugees and internally displaced children and youth,” he said.
Sultan al-Aseeri, the deputy director-general for Projects at the QFFD, said: “Sports play an integral role in the lives of children and youth, it promotes peace and creates a sense of community.”
“The QFFD supports these initiatives as they align with our mission of using sports as a means of development and peace,” he said.
Unesco Regional Office for Eastern Africa director Prof Hubert Gijzen said:
“Unesco associates with Save the Dream on Sport for Development and Peace and salutes its inclusive model, community-pronged approach and capacity-building focus aimed at accelerating transformative leadership and empowerment of the youth as drivers of positive change and resilience in Garowe and beyond, through the power of sports and the arts.”
Massimiliano Montanari, the chief executive of the International Centre for Sport Security and Save the Dream, said: “It gives us a great joy to see local stakeholders willing to make use of the tools we have provided and taking the lead with a strong vision on the future they want.”
“And it is with pride that we have inaugurated the first inter-school tournament in the city of Garowe, an initiative conceived to continue across the years,” he said.
“We now aim to continue our work here and make of the Garowe project a model to be replicated across the State of Puntland, Somalia at large and in the neighbouring countries.”
Thaljieh, the co-founder of women’s football in Palestine, noted: “As a Palestinian, I grew up in a context of conflict and violence, like Somali children and youth, I have been through numerous challenges.”
“However, if you have a dream and you work hard, you can reach your dreams,” she said.
Galow said the programme represents a unique opportunity to enhance capacity-building through football, engaging vulnerable youth groups from various areas of Somalia.
The results achieved by the programme were praised by the mayor of Garowe City, Abdikadir Mohamud Mohamed, who emphasised the importance of the initiative and its unique outcome in terms of promoting sport as a vehicle to promote peace, break down cultural, political and social barriers and to help integrate youth living in Somalia into society, shielding them from divides.