Promote Sports for Peace -Minister Hoc

By Peter James Loruba

On Monday evening, Manut Bol court at the University of Juba had a lovely atmosphere. Well-designed court, gleeful audience and mouthwatering dunks separated by engaging musical performance slowly pushed the day away.

It was the 4th anniversary of the Manut Bol court, the beautiful court built in memory of the famous Manut Bol by his protégé another Basketball powerhouse, Luol Deng. In attendance were government officials, international organizations, players from the Luol Deng Foundation and the university students.

The Minister of General Education Deng Deng Hoc hailed Luol Deng’s exploit as golden for remembering a great athlete Manut Bol and constructing the court for young people to train and showcase their talent.

“We are extremely happy that you have made this possible for our people. Of course many young people in this country want to emulate your success and some will make it but many others are playing not necessarily to be in the NBA, they will be in other leagues that will still be a huge success,” said Hoc.

The minister said Manut Bol was a generous man to many, including Luol Deng and Hoc said the NBA star’s coming down to Juba was a blessing to the youth.

“Your presence here today means a lot not only to the young people who are playing here today but to a lot of young people who are aspiring to be basketball players and other international athletes. I want to thank you very much for inciting our people and for making the time to be with them today so that they can see you,” said the minister.

He said the government was keen to use sports to showcase the talent of young people but also want to use sport to promote unity and peace in the country.

“By promoting sports among our youth, we are promoting peace and unity. Today we are here united people of South Sudan, that is the power of sport and we want to use this power positively in order to build this nation, in order to bring development back on track”.

Luol Deng said putting the basketball court in memory of Manut was the best thing he could do to keep the legacy of the legendary NBA star alive.

“I also wanted to dedicate a court after Manut Bol for everything that he has done for the country and I also feel that his legacy should always be remembered. A lot of kids are growing now and they don’t know about him but if he was from another nation he would be on TV and most people would know him, it’s a call for the kids but also an awareness to keep his legacy,” said Deng.

Luol said the vision of the foundation is big and their next plan is to have an academy and other projects in the country. He added that they are trying to increase the number of women in the foundation so that they can benefit from the projects.

“We believe that sports is a tool that we can use not just for basketball but it’s a way of getting scholarship going to high schools and getting better education,” he added.

He says it’s not just taking the kids of the streets but keep them occupied, teach them how to communicate. Although more efforts have been put in basketball, in the future they hope to tackle other sports and shift their focus to what the kids need in order to become the best.

With all he has done and the many promises still to be fulfilled, Luol is contented with what the foundation has been able to do in the past four years.

“If this court doesn’t exist tomorrow it has done a lot of things. We already have kids that have been given scholarships, kids that came together and made friends for life, we have kids who are playing college basketball and have a chance to be professional athletes and have free education,” he said.

At the end of the day, it was not just the speeches that got the people excited but the musical performance by J Young, Wrong T, drama on the importance of basketball  and matches between the girls’ team and the All-star game by Manut Bol group.

Deng Luol left the country yesterday for the states

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