KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec 16 – CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye has hinted they are planning to organize a tournament in Somalia, probably an Under-20 Championship in 2021 as they look to use football to unite the war-torn country.
Somalia has been one of the star attractions at the 2019 Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala, where thousands of their community living in Uganda have come in their droves to the Lugogo Complex to cheer the team on.
Musonye believes that with football, the political strife that has torn the country apart over the last few decades can calm down and peace can be restored.
“Football is biggest weapon that can unite people. When you look at the Somalia team they are here playing as one unit and you cannot know the country has problems. With football nothing can go wrong.”
“We are even planning to put up competition in Somalia in 2021, most likely Under 20 and you will see the stadia in Somalia will be full more than here, Somalia believe football can hold them together,” the seasoned football administrator stated.
Somalia head coach Bashir Hayford, speaking separately to Capital Sports says that he believes football can indeed unite the nation and he hopes the political powers can play their role to see to it that calm is restored in the country and football is played without fear.
Musonye says that CECAFA has previously taken the game into areas that were feared to be less peaceful and the presence of football brought a lot of calm.
“We have used football before as a bridge for peace. In Rwanda football was the pivot of strength, in Burundi as well we used football to bring people back. We are trying to do the same in Somalia,” he noted.
In 2013, CECAFA took the Kagame Cup to Sudan at a time when there were worries about the stability of the area with some clubs pulling out. However, the tournament went on without hitch.
Meanwhile, he says he has been impressed with the level of competition at this year’s Senior Challenge showpiece, citing the performances of Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti to note that football in the region has improved.
“I am happy with the competition so far and we have seen some very good football. The Somalia we see here today is not the Somalia of two years ago. Eritrea and Djibouti have also improved very much and the development is showing,” Musonye said.
He added; “People who criticize CECAFA, let them come to the ground and see. They say Musonye has killed CECAFA but let them come and see on the ground how the games are and how competitive teams are,”
“You look at all these matches and you see there is a lot of development and improvement in our zone. Soon we shall have some of the best teams competing in Africa from the region. This is what we have been trying to do; improve our football,” he further stated.
Musonye is also confident that the CECAFA region will be well represented during the 2021 African Cup of Nations, just like in 2019 when the region had Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi all qualifying.