On March 21st, 2023, a remarkable event took place at the Hargeisa National Stadium, a renowned 30,000-seater multi-sports stadium and home to the Somaliland national team. NAGAAD Network orchestrated a dynamic women’s youth football tournament, bringing together sixty girls from Hargeisa who were organized into four competitive teams, vying for victory on the field.
This tournament was conceived with a clear mission: to challenge and shatter the prevailing stereotype that women lack the skills and prowess required to participate in competitive sports. In Somali society, women are often confined to indoor activities, and thus when they have engaged in sports, it has usually been smaller-scale, indoor sports like basketball and netball. The significance of this event lies in its groundbreaking nature – it marked the first instance of female athletes engaging in sporting endeavours at the national stadium, empowering them to view themselves as equals to their male counterparts.
Notably, key stakeholders from the Ministry of Youth and Sports graced the occasion, recognising its significance. The event’s impact was further amplified as footage was disseminated across various stakeholder platforms, amplifying the message of inclusivity and gender equality. Various women’s rights activists encouraged the young women to follow their passion despite the gender-discriminatory norms, and NAGAAD committed to continue to support and encourage female youth engagement in sports.
Following the exciting competition, an awards ceremony celebrated the girls’ participation and achievements. Each participant was honoured with a participation medal and a sports kit. The top scorers and standout players were also duly acknowledged for their remarkable efforts.
This event stands as a powerful testament to the transformative power of sports in challenging societal norms and fostering gender equality. Through such initiatives, NAGAAD Network continues to pave the way for a more inclusive and progressive future for women in sports.