Story by Fran Belbin | Playground photo by Julius Turner | Match photos by Nico Hall
Burngreave was proud to host an international first last month, when the Somaliland international football team came to town.
Pitsmoor Adventure Playground put on a reception for the team on 4th May, then took 26 parents and children over to Barnsley to watch the match.
Local parent Sahra Abdi organised the event at very short notice, but the team were delighted to get a raucous reception at the playground and plenty of support from the side of the pitch.
The match was a friendly against Yorkshire International FA, and Somaliland’s first international fixture in preparation for the CONIFA World Cup which will take place in Hargeisa Somaliland in 2020. CONIFA (Confederation of Independent Football Associations) is the football federation for teams outside FIFA.
Somaliland has approximately four million inhabitants and another million of Somalilanders are estimated to live in diaspora, mainly in the Yemen, Canada, the UK and the USA. Somalia still declares that Somaliland is an autonomous region of Somalia. Regardless of the official status of recognition Somaliland is de-facto independent and self-governed, and thus has an excellent reason to field its own national team. The team is made up of Somalilanders from various parts of the UK; their director is Ilyas Mohammed who studied in Sheffield, so was keen for the team to visit the city.
Although Somaliland lost 6-2, their goals were absolute belters and the team enjoyed a meal with their fans in Burngreave afterwards.
www.conifa.org/en/2019/03/26/ somaliland-launch-the-2020- conifa-world-football-cup-to-thecommunity- in-style/