South Sudan, Somalia prove they’re not all about war

Friday, January 17th, 2020 12:00 |
Teny Pugy of South Sudan dribbles past Faruk Ahmed of Somalia during the Afro-Basketball pre-qualifiers at Nyayo Gymnasium on Tuesday. Photo/PD/PHILIP KAMAKYA

Lynette Matheka

Subconsciously, many associate South Sudan and Somalia with war. It, therefore, baffles many that the two countries are fielding very good squads at the ongoing FIBA Zone Five Afro basketball pre-qualifiers in Nairobi.

South Sudan has one of the most solid squads at the six-nation competition and has been tipped to be in the running for the sole slot to the qualifiers. Kenya remains the other force to reckon with at the games.

Fielding one of the youngest squads in both games, Somalia have held their own against sides that have had experience at continental level and are playing some interesting basketball.

While they are yet to register a win, they have pushed their competitors, in the process raking in some decent score lines.

Their strength lies in their swift point guards and their shooters who are making their efforts count beyond the arch.

Top of the questions, therefore, many are asking is whether these countries run active basketball leagues back in their countries.

South Sudan have an active 12-team league in their capital city Juba and according to their national team coach Ajou Deng, only the capital city can host any form of sport given their political situation.

“The league is very vibrant back home because the players are eager to play. The five-month long season has been in existence for about four years now,” said Deng.

According to the tactician, four of the national team players currently representing the country at the Afro basketball pre-qualifiers have played in the Juba league before landing either scholarships or professional stints. Of the 12 players currently in Kenya, only one plays in Juba.

“We have plans to expand into other territories but that depends on a lot more than just our plans given the situation back home. However, we are not just sitting around waiting for things to change.

We have academies in Juba that so far have more than 1,500 kids learning the game,” added the coach.

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