Baseball gains traction in South Sudan

Thursday, February 20th, 2020 00:55 |
Members of the South Sudan Baseball and Softball Association (SSBSA) pose for a group photo during a press conference in Juba, South Sudan on Feb. 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Gale Julius)

A group of volunteers has introduced baseball in South Sudan as the world's youngest nation joins a growing list of African countries to embrace the sport.

A Japanese national, Shiya Tomonari introduced baseball in September 2018, and together with some South Sudanese, began teaching baseball skills to youth in the capital, Juba.

Peter Daniel Deng, secretary-general of the newly-created South Sudan Baseball and Softball Association (SSBSA) said the group seeks to grow the game throughout the country by giving training opportunities for primary and secondary children.

"I believe we can use the game of baseball as a peacebuilding mechanism among the young people and help them become future leaders through embracing discipline and respect," Deng told journalists in Juba.

Shiya, who also heads the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in South Sudan, said though the sport remains unpopular, there is potential for it to grow among the youth.

"I found that there is huge potential for baseball in South Sudan because through my experience with baseball in other African countries, many players always struggle at the start but the South Sudanese players have shown potential right at the beginning," Shiya said.

Football and basketball are the main sports in South Sudan, but new games are coming in as the country opens to the rest of world.

"This is a good contribution for youth development in the country," said Barnaba Marial Benjamin, SSBSA chairman. (Xinhua)

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