Senior FIFA officials makes historic visit to Somalia
AT THE END of his two-day official trip to Somalia, FIFA senior manager for Africa development Mr. Zelkifli Ngoufonja announced a number of development projects to be implemented in Somalia. Mr. Ngoufonja became the highest-ranking FIFA official to ever arrive in Somalia and his tour to the war-devastated country has been recognized by the SFF as Â‘a significantÂ’ step forward for the countryÂ’s football progression. Before flying back to FIFA home on Friday, Mr. Zelkifli Ngoufonja and Somali FA president Abdiqani Said Arab held a joint press conference to update the media on the football development in the country and how FIFA was turning much attention to Somalia. Somali Football Federation President Abdiqani Said Arab said that the reason for the arrival of the senior FIFA official was mainly to see the progress on the ground and study SomaliaÂ’s current needs, He added that FIFA sent the official with the request from his federation which asked the world body to come and see what was going on in Somalia after years of bloody conflicts. He said the visit was the first of its kind by a top-ranking FIFA official to the country in SomaliaÂ’s football history. Â“Such a historic visit by our brother Zelkifli Ngoufonja to Somalia was very important for us at the moment, because he studied much about the development programs implemented so far and as well as the huge needs we currently haveÂ” SFF president told the media. He said that today FIFA realized that Somalia changed a lot and the security situation in the country was improving, after Zelkifli Ngoufonja has travelled different locations and enjoyed the beautiful weather in the country. Â“I thank our brother Zelkifli Ngoufonja for accepting to come to Somalia and his arrival here will actually open the doors for more FIFA presence in SomaliaÂ” SFF president Abdiqani Said Arab explained. During 2015, FIFA will implement more development programs in Somalia including the construction of the SFF headquarters, technical centre and as well as the construction of a new soccer facility. The president displayed hundreds of footballs which he said were part of the additional FIFA assistance to Somalia. Â“These footballs are intended for the countryÂ’s football development and we will provide them with the clubs, regionsÂ” the president said adding that the footballs will also be used for youth development and as well as grassroots programs across the country. On his side, FIFA senior manager for Africa development Mr. Zelkifli Ngoufonja, said he was very fortunate and even honoured to be in Somalia. Â“Before I arrived in Somalia, I didnÂ’t know about Somalia apart from the president and members of the executive committee and some Somali friends I have abroad, but know I have more experience about SomaliaÂ” Mr. Zelkifli Ngoufonja said thanking the Somali FA officials and the people of Somalia for the high profile welcome he received during his stay in the country. Â“I got to Somalia and I fell in love with Somalia, because of the nice weather and the good hospitality the SFF extended to meÂ” he said. Â“My arrival here in Somalia, for us it was to send a message to the people of Somalia to show them that they havenÂ’t been forgotten by the football familyÂ—it has been a long time to come to Somalia, but I am happy that we are finally here after a very long time of absenceÂ” the senior FIFA official noted. He said that during the two days he was in the country, it was a very good opportunity for both FIFA and Somali FA to discuss on various projects which will be implemented in Somalia in the future. Â“There are a number of FIFA services we could not implement in Somalia, because we didnÂ’t know how the situation in Somalia was, but now we have much better vision about the security situation in Somalia and as well as the football environment and the community in generalÂ” he added. Â“I watched one of the league matches and I really enjoyed itÂ” he continued. He appreciated the cooperation between Somali government and Somali Football Federation, saying it was helping the promotion of football in Somalia. Â“It was good to see the president of the republic of Somalia coming to the stadium and watching a football game last yearÂ—we are happy that Somali government is doing well to support the federation and I urge for the strengthening of such a beautiful cooperationÂ” the FIFA official explained. Alongside Somali FA officials, Mr. Zelkifli Ngoufonja walked on foot from his hotel to the airport to show the world that the security situation in Somalia was improving. The officials walked a distance of 600meters from the hotel to the airport. Mr Zelkifli Ngoufonja was seen off at the airport by Somali FA president Abdiqani Said Arab, his senior Vice president Ali Abdi Mohamed and members of the executive committee.