The Hague wins AFT 2013

The Somali Diaspora football team from The Hague wins the Amsterdam Futsal Tournament 2013 (AFT). After a sensational match against Den Bosch, which was a tie until the very last minute, The Hague scored in the final moments one last goal and won the finals with 6-5. HIRDA is very pleased with the great turnout at the 9th edition of the AFT, and happy to have brought so many Somali Diaspora youth from Europe together. 

Imagine twentyfour football teams, each consisting out of ten passionate young men all accompanied by one or two coaches, and by busloads of excited supporters, to be concentrated in one sports hall. Mix it with five teams from other European countries like Norway, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden. And add to that four basketball teams, all containing about seven girls. These are the ingredients of the 9th edition of the Amsterdam Football Tournament (AFT), organised by HIRDA.


“It is a great place to meet other people from the European Somali Diaspora, therefore definitely a one of a kind opportunity! Of course there is some chaos here and there, but I really love the atmosphere. We do not have something like this back in Norway,” a Norwegian football player explains.  

Somali EU ambassador present at AFT
From Friday the 21rst until Sunday the 23rd of December 2013, Sporthallen Zuid was the location where hundreds of Somali Diaspora youngsters from whole Europe came together to participate in the tournament. This year’s champion is the team from The Hague, after a sensational match against Den Bosch. “We participated in the AFT since the first edition, and every time we hoped to win it. Now we finally did it.”, says one of the teamplayers, who received the first price from the Somali EU ambassador himself. 

The Somali EU ambassador Ali Said Faqi came all the way from his office in Brussels to welcome everyone during the opening ceremony on Friday 21rst. “I feel honored to meet this many Somali people at once.” states Fagi. "It is an exception that so many Somali youngsters from different European countries come together at one event. I am very happy to see the huge amount of people who are involved. I am also very pleased that people originating from all Somali ethnic groups are mixed here. My intention is to support this project in the future.” 


“We really enjoy the vibe! And aside of the last match, which we lost against Venray, we are doing great!” some Swedish football players say enthusiastically at the tribune. 

Somali women compete in basketball tournament
Besides competing against each other, the youngsters came to get to know one another and to learn how to use the opportunities that are there to be taken in Europe. Networking and increasing resilience are key during this tournament. In this light, HIRDA provides to eight Dutch football teams a training in how to increase resilience, while building a life in the Netherlands. 

However, just boys participate in the football tournament. In order to reach also young Somali women in Europe, HIRDA organised for the second time a basketball tournament during the AFT. “There were many positive reactions on the participation of these women. I am happy to see that slowly it is becoming more accepted.”, says Fatumo Farah, Director of HIRDA. “Every year the amount of female participants is increasing.” 


The height of one of two German girls tells without a doubt she is a basketball player, the other girl assures: “I’m cheering, she is playing.” She explained that she wishes an organisation such as HIRDA would exist for the Somali community in Germany. She herself recently started a mentor programme to reach Somali girls. It is her goal to expand this programme and become as big as HIRDA. For her it was the second time to visit the AFT and she is very enthusiastic about the involvement of women in the organisation and the basketball component. “I really like the atmosphere and meeting new people here.”

Somali Diaspora needs to be united
In order to make a difference in peace building in Somalia it is important for the Diaspora to be united first. This was one of the main conclusions of the discussion organised by HIRDA during the opening ceremony on Friday the 21rst. In Somalia, sports in general are very important to peace building. At the moment the Somali society is very fragmented, and the participating youngsters state that they as a Diaspora can improve these circumstances by becoming one group first.  

The Amsterdam City Counsel Member Eric van der Burg is surprised about the huge attendance. “I am very pleased that HIRDA provides this opportunity to Somali Diaspora youth by organising this sports event. There is a need for more activities, where Somali youth from whole Europe get the opportunity to build a strong network.” According to Fatumo Farah, sports are a good opportunity to bring people together on neutral grounds.


Special thanks 
HIRDA is honored that many special guests came to support and inspire the youngsters during AFT, like professional women basketball players, who have represented the national team of Somalia; Magan Dahir, who has won a world championship in table tennis in a wheel chair; the world famous model Yasmin Allas; and on top of that Sayid Khalifa and a few other Somali famous singers. During the closing ceremony Fatumo Farah especially thanked the EU ambassador and city council, who freed their schedule for three days to support the Somali youngsters. And not to forget: HIRDA is very grateful to all the volunteers who made the tournament possible and is looking forward to celebrate AFT’s 10th anniversary in the upcoming year.  

Click here to watch the highlights of AFT 2013!

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