National, News

Bright Stars return to heroic receiption


By Charles K. Mark

In a display of support and unity, the South Sudan Basketball Team returned home to a hero’s welcome after a remarkable journey in the FIBA World Cup in the Philippines.

Tears, chants and traditional dances marked the celebration as thousands flocked to Juba International Airport for the homecoming of the Bright Stars.

Against all odds, the Bright Stars have shown their determined spirit at this year’s FIBA World Cup after earning a sport for the Paris Olympics 2024.

South Sudan carried the prize through a 3-2 record in Manila to thrive over all other African teams just three years after Luol Deng took over as the South Sudan Basketball Association (SSBA) President.

“It’s a beautiful thing to see all of us celebrating what our athletes are doing, our basketball players, of going out there and playing together and now becoming number one in Africa,” Stated Luol Deng on arrival from Manilla, Philippines.

Luol stated that the unique success has something to do with the passion earned through support expressed back home.

“Sports is a very unique and it’s allowing us to come together and celebrate this. It’s showing us the way forward when we come together, what we are capable of doing. So I don’t want us to take it lightly of what joy and happiness this is bringing to all of us,” Mr. Deng added.

The SSBA president stated that the country’s excelling performance in the sport is taking the rest of the world by surprise.

“We can erase the negativity and the things that have been said about South Sudan and being portrayed, and we are using sports to do that. So, I’m very happy to have a part in doing that,” Luol appealed.

They not only dominated the court but also inspired the nation.

Yong Dok, one of the fans who turned up at the Airport expressed her happiness to No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper.

“We are so excited today with what they have done to us. It is like a dream. Actually, it’s the first time South Sudan is going to participate in the Olympics, so I Wish you all the best for the next game,” she said.

The Bright Stars were accompanied by the Vice President for the Gender Cluster, Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, and welcomed First Vice President Riek Machar Teny and Kuol Manyang Juk, senior presidential advisor, among other government dignitaries.

Talking to the media on Tuesday,

Dr. Albino Bol, minister of sports, youth and culture, conveyed appreciation to the team for making the country proud.

“When we were in Manila, people of the world started knowing where South Sudan is and what South Sudanese can do. And this is what the Serbian coach said, that you guys have good and strong resilient players, but only we are lacking experience,” Dr. Albino expressed.

Bol said the country’s entry to the Paris Olympic Games 2024 was a great achievement for the only East African country that made it to the World Cup.

“Since the independence of all the East African countries, this is very important. We are only eleven years old. Some countries are 70 or 60-something years old. So it’s a great privilege to all of us,” he said.

“And you remember the great giant teams that we have conquered. We are resilient people. If we leave the violence and we focus on the sports, we will reach the sky.”

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