Luol Deng is on a mission to keep his native South Sudan among Africa’s top basketball nations.
Elected president of the South Sudanese Basketball Federation in 2020 after an illustrious playing career which span fifteen years with five different clubs in the NBA, Deng returned home to help nurture kids and give hope through the sport that brought him fame and fortune.
The 2.06m (6ft 9in) small forward talked to FIBA.basketball about his mission and basketball vision for his country.
“Our main goal as a federation is to build foundation so the youth and everyone will know that there is a platform to horn their skills and be great in life just as the beautiful game has done for me.
“Though it may take time before things get materialized just the way we want but I can tell that soon the world will reckon with South Sudan as a strong basketball nation,” Deng explained.
On what to expect from the senior men team taking part in the 30th edition of the AfroBasket 2021, Deng replied: “We may be aiming to win it in our first outing but we sure can compete and anything can happen.”
He, however promised that once the COVID-19 pandemic ease out the South Sudan Basketball Federation board which he sits atop will devout more energy to the grassroots as they hope to appear in all championships in Africa.
He urged the players in the senior national team to see it as a honour for wearing the national team colour and holding aloft the flag of South Sudan.
South Sudan closed their Group D campaign with a 88-86 victory over neighboring Uganda.
The 36-year-old describes sport as a rallying point that can bring development to any nation of the world especially African countries.
Deng admitted that he is saddened about the absence of adequate support from the government but applaud them (Government) for the little they have done to grow sport in the country.
He was full of appreciation to all South Sudanese for the support they have given to sport especially those in the diaspora.
“I want to thank our government for providing some level of support and I also want to urge them to do more and see sports as a nation builder and rallying point for youth engagement,” Deng pointed out.