Sports facilities and recreations: the forgotten obligation and responsibility of the concerned institutions of South Sudan

WilsonDeng(Juba ,South Sudan) - As always, the fundamental and universal factors that attract people most to sports are playing grounds, equipment, economic benefits, and the great care manifested by the institutions concerned. Most of the above services were available in Southern Sudan during the interim period and even in the former state provincial capitals during the time of the Regional Autonomy from 1972 to 1983. The popularity of sports in those days explains why we had many sportsmen and women at national and international scenes, namely, the likes of the late Manut Bol, HE. Nhial Deng Nhail, HE. Bior Ajang Duot, HE. Martin Elia Lomoro, HE. Mohamad Elhaj Baballa, Hon. Peter Beshir Gbandi, HE Robert Lado Loki to mention but a few.

Much as there were conflicts and wars in Southern Sudan from 1983 till the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, these facilities especially the playing grounds were in existence. But, alas! For the last eight years I have watched the cold seizure of public spaces for sports within suburbs in Juba and other towns of South Sudan from the concerned institutions and consequently reallocated to the so called “investors” without anybody being held accountable. It’s our job as concerned citizens to ask why the provision and protection of sports facilities, services, opportunities and recreations for the citizens of South Sudan are being forgotten.

Indeed, as the people of South Sudan raised their fist high up in July 2011 in celebration of the independence of the country they have been yearning to get for decades; their minds also loomed large with high expectations of their government. The sheer emotions and cry of the people exhibited on that momentous day no doubt demonstrated that the standards by which the government in the new Republic of South Sudan were going to be judged were the government’s ability to satisfy the expectations of the public. The list of the people’s expectations has been too long to the extent that everything literally became a priority for the government. Today, the commonly debated expectations of the people are security, physical infrastructure and political representations. However, there is one equally critical expectation from the youthful citizens of South Sudan, which seems to escape the “most important files” of institutions’ daily concerns, responsibilities and strategic plans. 

It is obvious that sports’ facilities, services and opportunities are being relegated to the “less important files” of the government authorities. The effect of the relegation seems to be worse at the local government levels. Of course a somehow one-dimensional minded reader of this article may quickly misunderstand my chief concern here, and argue that there is a Ministry at the national level and Ministries at the State levels dedicated for sports, youth and culture.

True! But the existence of these institutions do not necessarily guarantee provisions of adequate sports facilities, services, opportunities and recreations in addition to protecting the existing ones. The point therefore is that, the constitutionally established institutions that are dedicated to deliver sports facilities, services, opportunities and recreations have not met their responsibilities to the expectations of the general public of the Republic of South Sudan; This is the reason for the widespread outcry and what compels me to bring this crucial issue to the public domain of concerned citizens and officials.

The claims of this article are substantiated by the simple examples of anti sports occurrences in towns of South Sudan such as Juba where there is an uptick in failure to protect the old allocated spaces for sports within the planned residential suburbs. Similarly, new suburbs are being planned and demarcated around Juba and other towns of South Sudan but spaces for sports are not being catered for adequately. The few that have been allocated are never protected from powerful grabbers on whose sides stand those whom one can refer to as “petty investors” who care less for the importance of such sports spaces for the citizens and the country. It has become a matter of public knowledge that within the residential suburbs of Juba and other towns, sports spaces have been taken over by powerful and unscrupulous individuals to the extent that the youthful citizens of our country have been deprived of spaces for them to exercise and enjoy their privileges and rights to play sports.

Sometimes it is of critical importance to remind our concerned authorities of their constitutional obligations and responsibilities in providing sports facilities, services, opportunities, and recreation and thereafter protect them. South Sudanese citizens are increasingly being deprived of sports facilities, services, opportunities and recreation despite the fact that sports play pivotal role in state development and human health since time immemorial. The following are some of the playing grounds that have already been given away:

·      Former Mouild playing ground in Juba town

·       Bulluk police training and playing ground

·       “Hai Jalaba” playing ground

·      Former Juba Girls secondary school

·       Hai Amarat playing ground next to residence of HE Oyay Deng Ajak among others.

Meanwhile, the other playing grounds which are under threat of imminent incursion and grabbing are Kuwait playing ground, Juba one Girls Primary School basketball court, Sherikat (Gumbo) playing ground, Simba (Giada) playing ground and Airport playing ground among others.  It is therefore imperative to understand that sports in general are among the oldest social activities practiced by communities of human beings. Sports therefore can be traced back to the ancient Greek and ancient Egyptian times. Traditionally, sports have been associated with entertainments and winning for prominence and ego. As sports evolved with time, there emerged a widespread conventional wisdom that linked healthy human body to healthy human mind. So when the Italians chanted the famous dictum “Mens sana in corpore Sano” which is translated as a healthy mind in a healthy body, they were complimenting this conventional wisdom. By this wisdom, human beings figured it out that one of the important methods to attain and maintain healthy human body is sports in all their diverse types.

Over the years, sports have evolved to the extent that they have a huge industry, which not only provide physical fitness and entertainment to the participants in the sports and the spectators but also provide huge economic benefits to nation states. Today, every country in the world aspires to provide one of the best sports facilities, services and players for the simple reasons that the country not only gets economic benefits but also prestige and fame. Above all, sports promote peace, unity, and harmony among the youth of every country regardless of their ethnic, cultural and religious diversities. Therefore, the authorities in the Republic of South Sudan are to be reminded of the prestige and pride bestowed upon us by the late Manut Bol who today remains a sport legend internationally and particularly in South Sudan. Mr Luol Aldo Ajo Deng is also increasingly making the Republic of South Sudan proud for his participation in one of the world’s most prestigious sports domain; the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States of America and as the current captain of basketball team for the United Kingdom and not forgetting our recent late sports legends namely Mr. Winder Both Diu and Mr. Micheal Benjamin Lowki who were among the first African basketball teams in 1971.

On the whole, the need for quality sports facilities, services and opportunities are a necessity and basic rights of citizens of every country. Therefore, the occupied areas of extracurricular activities need to be restored and the remaining ones respected and protected. The provision of quality sports facilities, services and playgrounds must become one of the important responsibilities of the state and its concerned authorities. In order to fulfill this noble responsibility, the government of the Republic of South Sudan in its infinite wisdom has to ensure that it provides quality sports’ facilities, services and opportunities to its citizen. The national government ought to reclaim all the lost sports spaces and at the same time enforce stringent laws whenever and wherever the rights of the citizens to practice and enjoy sports are violated. Resources must also equally be allocated for the development of quality sports facilities so that the Republic of South Sudan will in the nearest future own entire sports complexes if not sport cities so that we host prestigious regional and international tournaments with pride and dignity.

I humbly and urgently appeal to all the relevant authorities to halt the ongoing constructions in some of the sports arenas until there’s an amicable resolution to this matter.

**Lt. Gen. (Reserve) Wilson Deng Kuoirot (AKA “Amoch Arab”) is the Deputy Chairperson South Sudan Basketball Federation. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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