Suzan Awal Samuel, a talented basketball player from South Sudan, has nurtured her skills in the elite sporting genre since her childhood days despite fierce resistance from her patriarchal society that hardly recognize the positive contributions of the girl child.
The 25-year-old has an undying love for basketball compared to other sports she played since childhood.
Awal found her purpose in the male-dominated sport and is currently zealous on gradual improvement in order to leave an enviable legacy upon retirement.
During a recent interview with Xinhua in Juba, Awal appeared jovial and physically determined.
She said her dream is to defy the odds and play in developed countries like United States, China and Britain.
“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,” Awal said.
She 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 is the second born in a family of six.
Awal revealed 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 won numerous trophies as a player.
In 2016, Manut Bol Camp funded by Lol Deng Foundation nominated her as the best coach of the year and the award inspired her to aim for the 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 Bachelor Degree in Economics and Business Administration.
Besides coaching, Awal works as a logistic officer with Solidarity South Sudan, a religious charity.
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 decline.
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 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 cohesion among them. There is no conflict in sports because in sports we all win. We do not discriminate against people based on tribes, political affiliation, gender or color. We are one big sporting family,” she added.