eld in Phoenix Arizona.
eld in Phoenix Arizona.
Like thousands of Somali youth in Diaspora, the Somali youth in Arizona are dealing with daily challenges that are as big as the problems that destroyed their home country, Somalia. These challenges include the threat of gang membership, drugs, tribalism, and most of all, vulnerability to radicalization by terrorist groups that operate in Somalia. Between these enormous challenges and the Somali youths in Phoenix stands a young man who many youths called him “Aabo”(father).
Mahad Abdullahi Jigis(Cagaweyne) is a 25-year-old youth leader who founded Walaalaha Phoenix soccer club in 2006. When I asked what his intentions were when he formed this team? He replied, “ to unite the Somali youth in Arizona behind a Somali identity which fosters brotherhood based on not tribalism, but on appreciation for one another as a Somali youth.”
Walaalaha Phoenix soccer club has 48 members aged from 6-years to 27-years- old. They play soccer games three times a week, while at the same time, sharing ideas on how to become positive young men in the society.
The team has 33 boys aged 6 to 12-years-old whose parents trusted their responsibilities on Mahad to train them not only to become good athletes, but also grow up to become the future leaders of Somalia and the entire world.
As Mahad always says, “ My aim is to let them grow up without the influence of gangs, drugs, tribalism, and many other social ills that they are vulnerable to.”
The challenges this youth foundation faces are not external ones, but rather internal obstacles that come from with in the Somali community. There are those who are trying to brainwash the young Somali generation about tribal conflict in Somalia and those who are trying to radicalize young Somalis to join Alshabab by lying to them that they be in paradise if they join them, said Mahad.
Mahad thanks the Somali mothers of phoenix for their financial and moral support of this youth foundation. He says that they are tired of seeing Somali young men’s future lost as a result of gang violence, radicalization, and the fatal disease of Somalis, tribalism.
Since its foundation in 2006, Walaalaha Phoenix youth club competed in major soccer tournament both nationally and locally. And as of today, they have won six major trophies and are competing for the seventh one at the moment. Their immediate future plan is to expand their membership and reach other Somali youths who are at risk to many social ills.