By Bullen Bala Alexander
The Luol Deng Foundation (LDF) is on mission of uplifting the country with positive channels of basketball by setting up courts across the country.
Luol Deng Foundation is a non-government organization that uses basketball and education as tools to give hope and to unify South Sudanese youth.
Earlier this month, the foundation has visited over 15 towns in the country in order to set some basketball courts and gives out sports items.
The places visited were; Yei county CES, Yambio WES, Torit EES, Wau WBGS, Tonji, Turalei, Warrap State, Rumbek, Yirol Lakes, Bentu, Pariang, Malakal, Bor town, Abiyei Administrative area among other places.
Deng A. Deng, Country Director for Luol Deng Foundation said the foundation has embarked on encouraging the basketball programs across the country.
The country director Deng said through basketball activities in the country, it would pave ways for the better reconciliation and promote peace and unity among youth.
“Yes as a foundation, we have started our mission of making sure that we uplift the nation with confident outlets of sports including education and healthier living,” he stressed.
He disclosed that in the places they visited, the foundation noted that there was great talents in youth outside there but they were not supported.
He was speaking to media after their arrival back Juba.
“We have seen really there is bright future in the young generations, but we need to do more by joining our hands together to achieve the goals for our nation,” he emphasized.
He added that “Basketball is one of sports that is very expensive in the world therefore, it needs our collective efforts including government and other private sectors to encourage it in the country.”
Deng further revealed that the Luol Deng Foundation seeks to go beyond basketball by continuing to offer youth and young adults opportunities to develop themselves both on and off the court and by supporting students’ academic growth, personal growth, and creative spirit.
He encouraged those who want to support the work of the Foundation through the Deng Academy to get involved in providing workshops for students on what they can do.
“The Deng Academy is always happy to receive support in meeting the needs of our students.”
He said others could sponsor a student to remain in school by taking care of school fees, sponsor a tournament by providing water and snacks, and help the group to duplicate the program in other states. For his part, Michael Acuil Mading the Director of the foundation disclosed that for the first time in Juba, the group is organizing a girl’s only basketball tournament titled “Her time!”
“Many girls have shown interest in playing basketball in South Sudan: the support has not been there in encouraging the growth of female participation.”
He said as much as South Sudan has become a household name in both men’s and women’s basketball, there is no women’s league for any age group in South Sudan.
“We truly believe in the newer of women building a better and peaceful future for the people of South Sudan hence we always ensured that girls and women are included in our programs and on our staff,” Mr. Mading added.
According to him the tournament is to develop basketball skills and demonstrate the need for a competitive women’s league and advance women’s soft skills and life skills.