Reporters on the Job

Soccer Moms: Correspondent Lane Hartill says that visiting the mom's club of Ivory Coast's national soccer team was a kick. "I had no idea something like that existed. I met with three moms and a sister, but all 23 players' moms are in the club, even some who live in Europe."

Lane didn't notice much difference between the Ivorian women and American moms who watch their sons play. "They told me they often can't even watch the game; they go into the other room and pray for victory. If a son gets knocked down, it really bothers Mom," he says. "They said they give their sons advice on the phone after the game."

Once the interview was over, Lane says, the women pulled out bolts of material and compared patterns – something, he notes, his own mom might do.

A Young Leader: Correspondent Rob Crilly says he was taken aback when he met Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, chairman of the Union of Islamic Courts that have gained control of Mogadishu, Somalia. "He was not what I imagined," says Rob. "He was very relaxed. He's youngish – maybe in his early 40s. He did wear an Islamic headdress, but otherwise, his clothing made him look like an advertisement for the Gap."

Rob says that Sheikh Sharif was very polite – and apologetic for being late to the interview. "He used to be a teacher, apparently, and you could see he had a patient air about him. I interviewed him at the headquarters of the Union of Islamic Courts, which was very basic. Bare wires stuck out of the ceiling, the air conditioning was broken, and there was little furniture. It was almost as if they were getting used to the idea of being a political force in Mogadishu."

Though there were no computers in sight, Rob did note that Sheikh Sharif was well-equipped when it came to one tool of leadership: "Between him and his secretary, he had four mobile phones."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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