STORY: SOMALIA / BASKETBALL TRT: 4:32 SOURCE: AU/UN IST RESTRICTIONS: This media asset is free for editorial broadcast, print

, online and radio use. It is not to be sold on and is restricted for other purposes. All enquiries to CREDIT REQUIRED: AU/UN IST LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /SOMALIA/NATS DATELINE: 07 JULY 2013, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA / JANUARY 2013, DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA SHOTLIST: MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (JULY 7, 2013) (AU/UN IST) 1. Wide shot, boys and girls during basketball clinic 2. Med shot, players on the court 3. Med shot, young boys and girls with the ball 4. Wide shot, young boys doing layups during basketball clinic 5. Close up, shoes on the court 6. Wide shot, silhouette of players standing under the backboard 7. Wide shot, two players running a passing drill 8. Close up, Hamsa Abdullahi Hussein’s face 9. Wide shot, Hamsa Abdullahi Hussein and other girls practicing free throws 10. Wide shot, Hussein making a layup 11. Medium shot, backboard as ball enters the basket 12. Soundbite (Somali) Hamsa Abdullahi Hussein, Basketball Player: 13. Medium shot, girls listening to their coach, Said Mohammed Sheikh 14. Close up, Sheikh’s face as he talks to girls 15. Wide shot, girls playing 16. Medium shot, ball being thrown on the backboard during a drill 17. Wide shot, Coach Hassan Ahmed Gelleh watching the players 18. Medium shot, Dekkeda players doing layups 19. Wide shot/tilt, players jumping 20. Soundbite (Somali) Said Mohammed Sheikh, Basketball Player: 21. Wide shot, spectators watching players 22. Medium shot, Gelleh and substitutes watching the game 23. Medium shot, Gelleh watching the game 24. Wide shot, players on the court 25. Medium shot, players during the game 26. Soundbite (Somali) Hassan Ahmed Gelleh, Basketball Coach: 27. Wide shot, players during the game 28. Zoom from Medium to Wide shot, Yahaya Osman, dribbling the ball and shooting 29. Close up, ball entering net 30. Medium shot, Osman standing on court 31. Wide shot, game in progress

32. Medium shot, backboard with ball entering the basket 33. Soundbite (English) Yahaya Osman, Basketball/Entrepreneur: DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA (JANUARY 2013) (MUST CREDIT MUKHTAR AHMED MOHAMED) 34. Wide shot, Somalia (white) and Burundi (red) playing a match 35. Medium shot, Somali supporter carrying Somali flag and celebrating 36. Medium shot, Somali supporter taking a photo with his tablet 37. Wide shot, Somali team scoring 38. Close up, scoreboard 39. Wide shot, Somali supporters celebrating as Somali team wins game STORY: Basketball is one of the world’s most popular sports, so a sight like this, where young people are being taught the basics of the game, should ordinarily, not warrant a second glance or further inquiry. But this, is a training session in the Abdi Aziz district of Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Until about two years ago, sports and other forms of entertainment were forbidden in the large sections of Somalia previously controlled by al Shabaab, the al Qaeda linked extremist group. The Somali National Forces, with the support of the African Union Mission in Somalia - or AMISOM - has driven al Shabaab from most of its urban and rural bases. These military gains have provided the security needed to catalyse recovery from decades of war, humanitarian efforts and social development. And that’s why people like 16-year-old Hamsa Abdullahi Hussein are not only free to walk the streets of Mogadishu in relative safety, she’s started playing basketball in hopes of becoming a professional athlete one day. “I didn’t have anything to do. I would spend a lot of time thinking and was very depressed. I started playing basketball, I really like it and it makes me happy. The court belongs to Mogadishu’s Dekkeda basketball club, which runs free clinics every day for the likes of Hamsa and her friends, and other local youth who would like to learn the game. Dekkeda is the top team in the city’s 13-member association, which is fully recognised by the Ministry of Sports, but funded by the private sector. Said Mohammed Sheikh and several other Dekkeda players are regularly called up to the country’s national team.

“Basketball has a role in building peace. Our country has been through a lot, and it’s better that the youth stay busy with things like basketball. It helps us to forget. Many of our friends are into smoking and are in militias, we can use basketball to get them out.” Dekkeda’s coach, Hassan Ahmed Gelleh, played for the national team in the 70’s and tried to keep the sport alive even after the country fractured in 1991. “We’ve come through very difficult times. al Shabaab wanted people to participate in Jihad rather than play or even wear shorts. We still managed to hold some competitions, but girls weren’t even allowed to come to the court. We’ve had a lot of problems, but there’s a huge change now. Both men and women can come and play. Somalia used to be one of the leading teams in Africa.” Basketball and other sports are also serving as an oasis for people like Yahaya Osman. He was only three months old when his parents fled Somalia’s internal conflicts. After growing up in the US, and playing hoops at college level, he’s returned to lend his skills on-and-off the court to help rebuild his home country. “I was told its dangerous, I was told al Shabaab has the areas, but then I thought fear is the best way to control people. With fear in our minds, the youth and the people that studied abroad, that ran away from bullets, they won’t come back, they won’t invest their time in our country and if we don’t help each other, our country is going to be in bits and pieces, everybody is going to grab a piece. So it’s up to us to do something about it because this little bit of fear is consuming our minds and it’s keeping us away.” Earlier this year, Somalia’s debuted its newly formed national team at a regional tournament, where they beat Kenya and Burundi. Sports is a powerful tool for bringing people together, boosting their pride, stimulating economic growth and youth engagement. Somalia’s basketball players have stepped up to the line, and are taking a shot at providing all these things for their country. ENDS.

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