Mosul is experiencing a sports revival following its liberation from ISIS

The role of sports in Mosul’s civil life is on the up as citizens once again take to the playing fields and courts to rediscover their love for competitive games.

Among the most resurgent sports in Mosul is football, which before the arrival of ISIS in June 2014, was the city’s foremost sporting pastime. On 29th August, the city’s first game in over three years took place, a match between Mosul FC and the Nineveh Police Team, which drew in a sizeable audience amidst a backdrop of dilapidated buildings.

Although the match took place at the ground of Mosul University rather than the near completely destroyed Mosul FC stadium, the match was heralded as a success and a promising sign of the revival of sport in the city.

Following this game, coaches are now returning to their jobs and are being instructed once again on drills and coaching practises. One of these instructors is Hamid Mukhif, who led a course of 24 trainers and explained the more theoretical aspects of coaching, including how to leading a training session, organise players, develop technique and instruct younger players.

“Today I am in the city of Mosul. When we see participants, we get more motivated and inspired to work. We made an extraordinary effort and most of the participants were delighted,” said Hamid. “Since the city of Mosul has lived through these situations, we must make more effort, guide more, and spread a lot of information.”

The emergence of football has come after a three years ban under ISIS, where football was considered haram and prohibited from sporting grounds, which were often turned into execution sites.

Now, coaches are working towards gaining training certificates that will see them pass the Asian C classification. The hope is that the more advanced courses ‘Asian A’ and ‘Asian B’ will follow in the near future.

But this initial stage is a positive step for citizens and football coaches alike, particularly after the dark days of ISIS rule and the creation of hope for the future.

One of the participating coaches, Saad Ali, believes that this will help foster greater community spirit going forward, which is imperative in staving off any ISIS resurgence in the future.

“This course will give me a morale boost,” said Saad, “to bring back sports activity to the province through training and by working hard to build a good sports community.”