Luol Deng Explains Importance of Basketball in South Sudan

Former NBA star Luol Deng saw nothing but negativity about his home country South Sudan when he was growing up and now he is a part of a big change.

The national South Sudan basketball team have made history not once, but twice in recent days.

First, by winning their first-ever FIBA Basketball World Cup game and second, by qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics as the top-ranked African team.

Both achievements are a huge feat for a war-torn country, where Deng was born in 1985 during the second Sudanese Civil War.

That second war that killed almost two million people and even more were displaced.

Growing up as one of those who were displaced, Deng told Al Jazeera’s Generation Sport how he wanted to put his “country on the map” and for the world to see South Sudan for “the positive, the talent, and what we can achieve as a nation”.

Deng has done just that, especially since he became the South Sudan Basketball Federation president in 2019.

The two-time NBA All-Star has “has transformed South Sudanese basketball through professional and community programmes, up-to-date courts and equipment, and supporting players and coaches on and off the court,” Al Jazeera said.

As well as helping children from his home country, Deng has also been helping children across the globe get basketball scholarships  “to become whatever they can become”.

“People want to better their lives, but if you want to help, you have to show someone how,” Deng said.

“Sports can bring people together and sports are a part of nation building.”

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