South Sudan basketball team shows we can triumph over challenges
OPINION – It may have sounded low-key when the South Sudan men’s national basketball team flew to Kigali, Rwanda, to participate in the ongoing AfroBasket championship.
Close monitors of the basketball game may have paid attention to what promised to be a historic and mouth-watering tournament ready to serve a variety of fixtures.
South Sudan opened the campaign with a mixture of good and bad luck. It was bad luck that the team could not get the cherished opportunity to showcase its ability against the Cameroonian team that had been declared ineligible for the match due to COVID-19 cases.
But on the flip side, it was by good luck that the boys had been granted 20 points and win to usher them into the next round of group stage games.
The next game against Kenya proved to be the turning point for the better. What had looked like an uphill task against the South Sudanese team turned out to be a blessing and a manifestation of what hard work and determination can produce.
With all the resources, wit, history, and swagger that oozed off the Kenyan team; the South Sudanese side prevailed albeit with a slim victory of 60-58. A statement was made. Hope was raised and the level of confidence shot even further.
The next game was against the defending champions Tunisia. South Sudan played a good game, closing in on the North African giants half time to level the scores at 40 points.
The boys only lost the game after a small blip in the second half that translated into the final scores of 80-65.
They lost the game in the eyes of the rules of the competition and exited the tournament at the quarterfinals, but it was all clear that they won the hearts of the compatriots and made a compelling statement into the game.
They were no longer regarded as rookies in the tournament but the youngest nation that promises good things ahead. For a better description if you like- a rising giant.
What we can learn?
There are many life lessons that South Sudanese can derive from this team, which comprises young brave men of the soil who have shown high levels of patriotism.
Our first lesson is that we should never let our past dictate our future. If these players headed into the game with pessimism and inferiority complex, they would not have raised the South Sudanese flag that higher. They would have cut a figure of a terrified dog that has come across a fierce leopard and can never fight back.
That the players believed in their talents, abilities and staged a good show is another salient lesson worth noting.
By believing in themselves and the leadership around them, they were able to produce unmatched results in the country’s history.
We can only hope that their star already lit will shine brighter and brighter with the more international tournaments to come.