South Sudan Basketball Federation (SSBF) President Mr Luol Deng has urged the government to start supporting sports in the country in order to improve the performances of teams within and outside the country.
Luol Deng speaking on arrival at Juba International Airport on Wednesday 2nd December 2020 said South Sudan was the only country at the AfroBasket tournament which was not supported by its government.
“When I was in the US, we were the only team at the AfroBasket that was not sponsored by the government back home,” said Luol Deng.
The SSBF head said with the performance his team displayed in Rwanda, they are changing the narrative of the nation from a negative narrative of war and conflict to a positive narrative of great sports performances at the international level.
“For us we have to change the narrative so now the government will feel the pressure because they have to get involved because everybody is talking about us and you don’t want that image not only for our kids and youth but for the country in general,” added Deng.
Asked about taking up the coaching role of the team and whether a new coach will be in place for the upcoming qualifiers in Mali in February, Deng said he will have to make a critical decision on the matter.
“I sat with the players and I said I coached before a lot of NBA teams which have offered me jobs to coach and I have turned it down and I said I know these players very well and i can win with them and we went, so now the problem I have is all the players want me to be the coach but it’s a decision if I want bring in a coach,” Deng said.
On the next qualifiers in Mali, He said the team is good but still missing pieces if they need to work on to reach the top level with other African countries.
“I think for us is, we are a good team but we are still missing some pieces, sometimes we can go up to 15 but we let teams back, I think we have to reach a point where teams fear us, were people talk about South Sudan,”
The team returned from Rwanda after they participated at the phase one of the AfroBasket 2021 qualifier where they performed to the expectations of their fans.
The team played three games, losing one against Nigeria and winning two against Rwanda and Mali respectively.
Since taking over as the president of South Sudan Basketball Federation in November 2019, Luol Deng has single handedly funded the national team activities with no support from other sectors.
The South Sudan National Minister of Youth and Sports Dr Albino from his side has urged the national government to now start funding national teams to improve on their performances both on and outside the pitch. The minister also lauded the performances of both the South Sudan national football team and the national U-20 football team who finished 3rd in the recently concluded CECAFA Zonal U-20 AFCON qualifiers in Tanzania after beating Kenya U-20 team by 2-1.