The Chairperson of the Wheel Basketball association Kim Bany Johk while playing photo by Journalists for Human Rights (JHR)
By Rose Keji Benjamin
At the height of the civil war that rocked the country in 1998, at Kakuma refugee camp, a group of South Sudan physically challenged refugees found solace in basketball kilometers away from their home.
The game started from 1998 in Kakuma camps, Northern Kenya where refugees from South Sudan, Uganda, Somalia, Congo, Rwanda and Central African Republic had sought refuge.
It is a tradition that they carried back to their country when peace was realized in 2011
According to the chairperson he said they got attracted to the activity to get away from the trauma that had inflicted most of them by the post conflict that was subjected to from various countries which South Sudan is one of.
He explained that they had many years struggling to get independence from the Northern Sudan. He added that they got attracted to the activity having in mind that it was going to relieve them from the trauma and stress.
The game would also enable them stay healthy as sport is a healthy practice that will motivate persons living with disabilities to engage in such activities to help them think positively about their lives and future.
The Wheel Chair Basketball team in Kakuma was initiated by participants from South Sudan. Mostly people living with disability, who were able to use and push the Wheel and score.
He said the game started in 2005 in Kenya in the refugee’s camps to avoid some cases of trauma as the result of the conflict. Through this activity there will positive thinking.
The Chairperson of the South Sudan Wheel Chair Basketball Association Kim Bany said on Wednesday in Juba that Disability is not Inability.
He said the sport association promoting the teams is called South Sudan Wheel Chair Basketball. There are 4 clubs. Cobra, lions, tigers, and Nile star.
“The participants are people who are physically disabled and those that can play; one should have the arms that can be able to ride the wheel chair and dribble with the ball,” Bany said.
However, he added that the game requires talent saying there is need to understand the situation of the country that people view the people with disabilities as if they are not able to do something.
“The Disability does not mean they are not able to do some things,” Bany stressed.
He said the team is planning to compete internationally in order to determine the capability of each player.
Bany said the challenges affecting the people living with disabilities playing this game include; inadequate capacity building, lack of transport, inadequate resources, limited training time since it is done once a week. He said the players also feel discouraged sometimes.
Karbino Jan Ngor Coach at Nimira Talata Stadium said that the number of the players is reducing as a result of the economic crisis. He said the players are staying in distant areas like Jebel, Juba Town and in the Protection of Civilian (POC) Camps.
“I started training last year. Most of the disabled people have interest in the game but some don’t. That’s why they do not come for training. As the coach I am always available but when some players come, may be around 5 pm we receive them,” he added.
“We have training with them because we are preparing a game for them. If we could have enough players we would go for the East Africa Championship,” he added.
Ngor said last year the players use to turn up for training in large numbers but now the crises made some of them to remain at home.
“They use to come around 15 drops to 7. But now only around 4 or 3 and they are sited to discuss what to decide again. They will decide if we are going to train them or whatever comes from the discussion,” Ngor added.
He said the game is good for the health of the players hence there was need to keep them busy with exercise.
“We know what they are supposed to be given. We let them to see the side of sport so that they are not idle. We are trying to make them unite that’s why we created the wheel chair basketball team for the people with disabilities,” he urged.
Couch Ngor appeals for support as they don’t have any funding to facilitate their activities. He also urged the disabled persons to turn up for training adding that practice is good for their health.