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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 June, 2004, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Somalis head to Real
Abdi Bashir Abdi is one of four young Somalis heading for a training camp in Spain
Bashir Abdi may want to change his shirt before he goes to Spain

Four young Somali footballers are on their way to Spanish giants Real Madrid for a two-week summer football camp.

The youngsters were selected for the camp, that takes place from 18 to 31 July, after the United Nations (UN) organised several football tournaments throughout Somalia.

The football events are part of the UN's Sports for Peace initiative in the war-torn country.

Winston Tubman, a representative of the UN secretary-general for Somalia, said: ''The scholarships show that football and sports in general is a magnet for youthful energy which the UN seeks to harness for the cause of peace-building in Somalia.

We're very happy to visit the home of some of the most famous football players in the world
Abdi Bashir Abdi

"This scholarship will provide a unique opportunity for the four selected candidates to be sport ambassadors and messengers of peace for their country and to return home with skills and experience to share with their peers."

The Sports for Peace initiative is an integral part of the 2004 UN campaign "Somalis for Peace" that will call on the country's citizens to work for peace and demand it from authority figures who are in a position to deliver it.

The Real Madrid scholarships are seen as an important part of the campaign.

17-year-old Abdi Bashir Abdi, one of the four heading to Spain, is overjoyed at the prospect of the trip.

''We're very happy to be able to visit the home of some of the most famous football players in the world such as David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo," he said.

"Now, we will have a story to tell our friends.''

The three other youngsters making the trip are Mohamed Yusuf Hassan, who is 15, and and 17-year-olds Yusuf Ali Morgan and Nuune Xuseen Cabdi.

Somalia is one of Africa's lowest-ranked football nations, with the national team placed 193rd out of all Fifa's 205 registered countries.





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