Somali women’s basketball team defy prejudice, hostility

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Whistles screech on the sea breeze as three female Somali coaches inspect a line of women in black and blue headscarves dribbling basketballs.

It’s not just the heat that makes it hard: the women are also braving the scorn of their families and the threat of attack by gunmen who think women should not play sport publicly.

“We cannot openly say we are going to play. We put our playing clothes and shoes in school bags and carry them that way to the field and we pretend we are going to school or university,” said Fardawsa Omar Ahmed, 20, a university graduate who also plays volleyball and football.

Her family used to discourage her from playing, but now they accept it, she said.

The women only play in compounds behind high concrete walls, which shield them from the gaze of the curious or those

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