News / Africa

South Sudanese Play Basketball for Peace

Hundreds of sports lovers in Juba converged at the Juba 1 Girls Primary School basketball court on Saturday to watch a one day event dubbed “The Playing for Peace Basketball Tournament.”

The tournament was organized by a delegation from the University of Notre Dame, one of the top schools in the U.S. and famous for its rich sporting legacy.  Both junior and senior teams took part.  Several games were played in the course of the day, but the main game was between the South Sudan army’s Bilpam basketball club and the Juba University basketball club.

The games went from 3 p.m. and until after 8 in the evening amidst music of all sorts.   Kevin Dugan is one of the event organizers from the University of Notre Dame.   In South Sudan for ten days around the tournament, he says this event was inspired by student activists at the university, both South Sudanese and American’s, following a visit they all made to the U.S. president’s office at the White House in Washington last December.

“We had all the students participate in that event, sign petitions to President Obama.  What we really asked for was a just and peaceful implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement,” Dugan told VOA courtside at the tournament.

“We ended up leading a student delegation to the White House, where we were able to talk with Samantha Power who is President Obama’s chief advisor on military and world affairs and from there we continued to advocate throughout the spring and have now taken this plan for a peace tournament to Juba in South Sudan.  We couldn’t be happier with the way it has come together.”

A Notre Dame University sponsored basketball tournament in Juba promotes peace in South Sudan
A Notre Dame University sponsored basketball tournament in Juba promotes peace in South Sudan

The Director General of Sports at South Sudan’s Youth Sports and Culture Ministry, Edward Yugu Settimo, believes such tournaments could indeed help bring peace to the new nation.

“This is a start,” he said. “We are going to make it an annual event.  We are going to bring the 10 states here because they are from the different tribes and different ethnic groups and we are coming to play together. When we play together this will bring peace to people, we are going to build peace through the sports.”

Kevin Dugan says that is exactly the message they are trying to promote.

“There is no doubt that national pride can be a unifying factor for all countries. And certainly for South Sudan as a new nation, that’s waited so long for their independence, the pride of wearing a national team jersey whether that be for the football team, whether that be for the basketball team and cheering for your team and your Country, that is a powerful thing that brings people together;” Dugan said.

Long Armakuei, 23, from the University of Juba, who emerged as the Most Valuable Player at the end of the day, believes he has what it takes to rub-shoulders with international stars.

“I have enjoyed it a lot and I wish South Sudanese will continue with the spirit of sports so that one day they will go to international sports leagues like the NBA [U.S.-based National Basketball Association] so that the new generation are exposed to the world,” he said.  “I am really very proud today that I am being announced as the best player of Southern Sudan, next time I will work hard so that I can achieve what I want.”

The South Sudan national basketball team captain, Agel Ring Machar says that beyond promoting peace, these tournaments are also necessary for the promotion of their national team.

“It is a good thing for South Sudan basketball to have such organizations coming in here and there, chipping a little bit to develop the game,” he said. “There is raw talent in the country.  There is a lot of potential. Now that we have got our independence and peace in the country, it’s just a matter of time before we become a power-house.”

That kind of optimism was rubbing off on young fans at the tournament, like 13-year-old Christopher Jada.

“I love basketball because I wanna be like Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant.  In my future I want to play for my country because I want to develop basketball in South Sudan. I want to be famous all over the world,” the Primary Seven student said.

But as the promoters point out, the best way to give young players a chance, and to build up a strong national team, is for peace to prevail in South Sudan, as it emerges as a nation

The government says it will use sports activities such as basketball and soccer to engage the majority of the unemployed youth.

Like Jada, many other young South Sudanese come to this basketball court to play in hopes of becoming a professional, like fellow countrymen, Manute Bol and Luol Deng.

Click Below to hear Mugume Davis Rwakaringi's radio report from the tournament.

 

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid