Sunday July 31, 2022
Ottawa (HOL) - Somali soccer legend Muridi Abanur Abati was welcomed to Ottawa on Friday by the local sporting community.Abati played as an attacking midfielder for Somalia's national soccer team in the 1980s, becoming one of the leading goal scorers in Somali history.
Abukar Shiino, a former Somali national team basketball player and Ottawa resident, led the welcoming party, which included coaches, parentsand athletes.
He played his club football National Printing Agency's football club (Madbacadda FC), where he led his club to the General Daud Cup - Somalia's premier domestic trophy - three times.
Many may not know that Abati began his athletic career playing basketball in the early 1970s - and was quite good. His first introduction to organized sports was through his local basketball club in Shangani. He said that his team went on to win the city-wide tournament.
However, standing barely 5'5, Abati acknowledged that his short stature would hinder his aspirations of playing professional basketball and decided to switch to soccer.
He quickly adapted to his new sport, playing pick-up in the narrow medieval streets of Shangani District and on the beach, honing his ball control and technique that would later earn him the nickname 'Somali Maradona.'
The three Somali Soccer Legends (Muridi Abanur Abati, Aweys Waxool and Jaahuur)
Over the next eleven years, Abati would solidify himself in local and international tournaments as an excellent maestro and a top goal scorer.
When asked by HOL what needed to be done to restore Somalia's football glory days, Abati said that the Somali government and football federation could do more to invest in athletes and their training.
"When we played football in Somalia during most of my career, we were doing very well. We were well respected, well paid and well recognized because we got a lot of support from the government but also fans."
Abati said that although his name has been brought up to lead the Somali Football Federation, it would not be the right time for him now. He did, however, leave the door open to the suggestion in the future.