Somalia has been faced with ongoing war for more than 20 years, and as a result, the country’s local footballing scene has obviously taken a hit.
The country’s national footballing home, Mogadishu Stadium, was built in 1977 to fill a 60,000 capacity crowd.
Unfortunately, as soon as war broke out in 1991, the stadium served as a war base for numerous militia groups over the years.
Goals and benches made way for trucks and guns as the stadium turned into a crucial point in the region.
Somalia was banned from hosting FIFA-sanctioned games, forcing their national team, the Ocean Stars, to play all their games on neutral or away grounds for 30 years.
Before 2019, Somalia had won only five games in 30 years. But football in the country has been on the rise, winning a World Cup Qualifier against Zimbabwe.
Following the turn of the last decade FIFA has began to re-engage with Somalia, sending a FIFA official on a mission and launching a development program in 2013 and 2015.
The stadium has seen significant improvements.
2011: UPDF General addresses soldiers
18/09/2011 - Mogadishu, Somalia - Commander of UPDF Land Forces Lieutenant General Edward Katumba Wamala addresses soldiers of the 7th Batallion in the Somali National Stadium, Mogadishu. The stadium was previously the base for al-Shabaab until their withdrawal from the capital on August 6th 2011. The Commander congratulated the soldiers on their success but warned them to remain vigilant in the coming months.
Click through the gallery above to look at the transformation over the years
On Thursday the stadium hosted it’s first official league match in sixteen years when the Somali Domestic Youth Football League kicked off.