Soccer is not only one of the most popular sports in Australia but it’s also the most popular sport in Kenya.
The sport could very well establish your career, be a fun activity to do with your friends and family or for some, be an outlet for their pent up stress accumulated over the week.
There’s no denying the fact that it could very well be the activity that could turn your life for the better, as it did for Ahmad Mohamed.
Ahmad, 21, was born in 1997 in Mombasa, Kenya. He didn’t come from a well-off family – his father, was a truck driver and his mother was a house wife. However, at the young age of eight years old, Ahmad was introduced to football and instantly fell in love with the sport. He had a passion for football like none other. He would run to the field as soon as he had any free time to spare.
What makes Ahmad special was that he grew up in the coastal region of Kenya. He had to deal with the looming danger of terrorist attacks and being recruited by jihadist fundamentalist group Al-Shabaab.
As Ahmad Mohamed grew up and went to school, his teachers noticed that he had a knack and passion for football and they signed him up for his school’s football team. By the age of twelve, Ahmad was already the top player of his school and being signed up for friendly tournaments which would lead him out of his country to play in others. His popularity spread as he gained fame from his achievements, but this also gained him the attention of Al-Shabaab. After he finished primary school he began to receive repeated invitations from Al-Shabaab, which led to him being threatened if he did not join the jihadist fundamentalist group.
“Al-Shabaab means The Youth in Arabic.
It emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia’s now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.
They are responsible for the 2015 massacre at Kenya’s Garissa University, near the border with Somalia. A total of 148 people died when gunmen stormed the university at dawn and targeted Christian students.
In 2013, its gunmen stormed the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, resulting in a siege which left at least 67 people dead.
During the 2010 football World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands, it bombed a rugby club and a restaurant in Uganda’s capital Kampala, killing 74 people watching the match.
Al-Shabaab is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.”
You might be wondering how do they recruit people and gain more members as each passing year.
“A short time ago, Al-Shabaab controlled most of southern Somalia and its ranks were swelled with eager young recruits keen to carry the group’s jihadist mission around east Africa and beyond.” —telegraph.co.uk, April 2015
“Terror groups like Al-Shaabab have changed their tactics of recruiting and training people. Apart from the normal process of radicalizing the youth, the groups have now shifted to actually forcing the youths to join them.”
With Al-Shabaab hunting him down Ahmad Mohamed decided to leave Kenya and claim asylum in Australia. The first thing he did when he arrived was to look for a football team to join so that he could continue his pursuit of his beloved sport. Just three days after he joined the team he was promoted from the Juniors to the Senior team because of his talent.
Ahmad Mohamed has an astounding amount of will and determination while facing extremes of adversity, loneliness and isolation. This determination may help him become a great athlete. All we can hope for Ahmad Mohamed now is to see him on the big screen playing for one of the teams in Major League Soccer.