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In soccer, Somalis find a link to home

The national team unites a scattered diaspora and provides a reason to cheer for war-torn Somalia.

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FANS FROM AFAR: Somali soccer supporters cheer for the national team during the East African CECAFA tournament in Kampala, Uganda, Jan. 7. Almost half of the team's players live outside Somalia.

Max Delany

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For all of his adult life, Ahmed Mohamed Farah has only seen the country he represents in news footage of war, killings, and starvation. Now studying for a business degree at Carleton University in Ottawa, Mr. Farah says it was a strange feeling the first time he pulled on the national soccer jersey of his distant homeland: Somalia.

Fourteen years ago, Farah and his family fled the spiraling fighting in Somalia, heading to the Middle East before ending up in Canada. After being spotted by scouts at a Somali football tournament in Toronto last year, he was tapped to play for the national team – nicknamed the Ocean Stars – in a recent regional championship in Uganda. But he won't be heading back to Somalia anytime soon.

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