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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs