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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

3-day Lockdown to Fight Ebola Continues In Sierra Leone

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid