Basketball girls back on 'Sharia Square' in Mali's Gao | Bangkok Post: news

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Basketball girls back on 'Sharia Square' in Mali's Gao

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As night falls on "Sharia Square" in Gao in northern Mali, a score of youths are practising on a basketball court, closely watched by their coach. Now that armed extremists have left, several girls in shiny tracksuit bottoms and low-necked tops have joined the boys. 

Fatoumata, 16, plays basketball at the former "Sharia Square" in central Gao, on February 26, 2013. Since the departure of the Islamists, who occupied the city for nine months, following the arrival of the French and Malian forces, the central square of Gao is once again called "Independence square."

Oumar Tonko Cisse, a retired coach in his 60s, is the founder of the Centre for Training and Promoting Sports (CFPS) in Gao. He is also president of the centre and its trainer, he says with a laugh.

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