News / Africa

South Sudanese Play Basketball for Peace

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid