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Founder & President

Ilyas was born in Hargeysa, the capital city of Somaliland, and later moved to the United Kingdom after the Somali civil war.

Ilyas’ love for football started from a young age and had increased throughout the past two decades. After completing his secondary school education, he studied and completed numerous footballs coaching courses, later establishing an amateur community football club in north London (which serving mainly the Somali community). Ilyas went on to develop partnership work with small football teams in Hargeysa, providing support in the form of donations of football kits and equipment. 

In 2011, he established the ‘18th May Cup’, an annual tournament held throughout the UK on Somaliland’s Independence Day. This was in response to the growing need to support vulnerable families he had met first hand during his visit to Somaliland. ‘18th May Cup’ was a great success and raised thousands of pounds annually. 

In 2013, a severe drought occurred in western regions of Somaliland triggering a response from Ilyas to allocate all funds raised that year from the ‘18th May Cup’ to those affected by the draught. Ilyas hired the former home ground of Barnet Football Club, the Underhill, which held seven thousand attendees on the day. He later partnered with the Somaliland Mission UK and raised more than £32,000 for the cause. It was at this moment Ilyas conceived the idea to start a national team that would represent Somaliland in international football competitions. 


To date Ilyas has achieved to;

  • Form Somaliland Football Association (SFA), May 2014

  • Register SFA as an affiliate with the Confederation of Independent Football (ConiFA), January 2016

  • Lead the Somaliland national team that competed in ConiFA World Cup 2016, Abkhazia