South Sudan’s female basketball player defies adversity to emerge as coach

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[Juba, TCT]--Suzan Awal Samuel, a South Sudanese female basketball talented player, nurtured her talent from a patriarchal hobby to become a renowned coach in the country.

The 25 year old passionate female player and a coach has more undying love for basketball game more compared to other sports she ever played. Awal found her purpose in the male-controlled talent and now said her zeal is to keep thriving to achieve success.

In an interview with The Christian Times - in Juba, Awal looks happy and physically determined! She said her dreams is to unyoke the odds and play in developed countries like United States of America, (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) among others.

“I know if I can play in any country, I can fit well into their squad and prove to the club that South Sudan has female talent like rest of the world,” said Awal.
Awal, was born in Wau formerly Western Bahrl El Ghazal and comes from defunct Lakes State, particularly Cueibet County. She hails from a polygamous family and she’s a second born of her mother out of six.

Awal revealed to TCT that she has played games like football, netball and handball but then discovered her best talent was in basketball where she represented her country in an East Africa region school competition and has won numerous trophies as a player.

She said in 2016, Manut Bol Camp funded by Lol Deng Foundation nominated her as the best coach of the year and the award sparked her confidence to do her best.

“I won the trophy of the best coach of the year and that really motivated me to grow stronger every day in my coaching career,” Awal said.
While playing basketball she also attended university and graduated from South Sudan Catholic University-Juba mid last year with a Bachelors of Economics and Business Administration.

Besides coaching, Awal works as a logistic officer with Solidarity South Sudan, a Church aid organization. She added that despite the obstacles, her education coincided with her talent to play and coach basketball. She described as “a Sound body makes a sound mind.”

“I am coaching and working at the same time with a Church organization and both of them earn me a living to support my mother and siblings,” she said.
Although South Sudan national basketball team was established in May 2011, and became a member of FIBA in December 2013 - the number of girls playing in its squad continue to be minimal.

The young female basketball coach urges young girls to step up into sporting careers and to explore their opportunities and unyoke the culture of seeing girls as a source of income.

Awal disclosed that her positive behavior on the court backed her thrilling success in basketball and advices young girls to behave positively when choosing hard talent like football, netball and handball while associating with their counterparts.

“To be a professional player as a female, playing requires good personal conduct and that can make your parents follow your dreams,” Awal explained.

The sports lady emphasized that sports is a key tool used by developed and developing nations to bring people together under one umbrella as citizens of their country. She called on government to prioritize sports by building an industry that can empower young talent to boost its economy.

“Sports is the best tool that can bring South Sudanese together. It will unite people and create love among them. There is no conflict in sports because in sports we all win. We and don’t discriminate against people based on tribes, political affiliation, gender or color. We are one big sporting family,” she added.

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