South Sudan earned respect after AfroBasket 2021 exploits, says SSBF boss Deng
The South Sudan Basketball Federation President Luol Deng (pictured) has said the Rwanda AfroBasket 2021 competition has earned South Sudan huge respect in the continent.
“I think now we are respected and a lot of teams now want our players. It is because they see we played hard [and did so] with a purpose,” he remarked in a statement after the team jetted in at Juba International Airport from Rwanda, Kigali.
“When it comes to the game of basketball the guys are just good as they are though we are a young federation, they work hard and bring something new in the game,” Mr. Deng said.
“It was an amazing and huge accomplishment to tell these guys for the first time ever in the history as to go to AfroBasket and be the remaining in eight teams and come outrank high,” he added.
He said the performance revealed the country’s potential, adding that, it just showed that a dominant trait of South Sudan which could be seen if more investment could be put in the sport.
“As what Nelson Mandela once said before, ‘sport is a very powerful tool that can bring people together and I definitely believe in that and our players playing is something bigger than just basketball.
“Yes, outside there we are playing basketball, but in our heart we know we are playing for South Sudan to put the country in the map and people to start realizing that there is a lot of young kids here in South Sudan that can change their course of their life, families, and course of the country,” he stressed.
More investment needed
However, he said there is a need for the country to do a lot in order to put the country on the right track.
“One thing I can say is that players that we have must always take their time to play basketball. They flee to different countries and we are still the only national team that is not paying their players,’’ he revealed.
He said all the basketball national team players are just playing, because of the pride and joy for the nation otherwise they are not being given something.
For his part, Dr. Albino Bol Dhieu congratulated the players for their hard work and to make sure that the country is respected.
“Yes, we have been knocked out by Tunisian Team but it is my relief that next tournament South Sudan will be on top,” he stressed.
He added that, “We do believe that we have the players with potential and what we need is the support from both government and other private sectors or whoever wishes to support basketball team in the country.”
He said South Sudan is a better country for all and through sports, the country can achieve peace.
According to him helping the basketball team in the country is in the plan of the ministry adding that they are working hard in order to put the budget of the basketball into the annual budget of the ministry.
“So what I want to say is that all of you guys are soldiers who are fighting for our flag, who are making us to be proud people as South Sudanese,” he added.
“This is the image that will change the narrative war, the narrative of bad things in the country,” he concluded.