A New Nation Is Born, The Story Of South Sudan And Using Football As A Tool For Hope


  

 Football Bringing Hope To A New Nation

After years of brutal violence and war, the world finally has its newest nation and its newest addition to the Football world .South Sudan declared its independence from Khartoum in which they have  been battling since the 1950’s and within 1 day the country was already ready take on its first challenge as a brand new United Nations State , their very first football match.The South Sudanese never believed the day would come that they could be called an independent state after years of Civil war with the North in which it is estimated that around 2 million people have been killed and has completely decimated all structure and infrastructure in the region.The bitter feud has grown in the region between the predominantly Christian and Animist in the South and the Muslim North.Many people have questioned the decline of infrastructure in the region due to its enormous Oil wealth, but a divide that has caused so much death was always going to have a detrimental effect on the region, but what has broken them for so long can be fixed by the power of football and using sport as a driving force to bring hope to the new South Sudan.

“When you have 11 young men in national team shirts walk out onto the pitch, they are South Sudan. States tend to precede nations. The way to build a nation in the TV age is through sport, because sport provides the most-watched programs. In the past France and Germany could build a nation on the battlefield.”  – Author Simon Kuper

This is only the beginning for South Sudan and there are huge improvements and structural/Hierarchy additions to be made in order for the country to move forward.The newly formed SSFF have to create an efficient national network of leagues and clubs and to build new stadiums and training facilities in order to make sure they are able to educate and train officials for matches and coaching staff through Sports Science in order to fill the roles and the needs of the club.

South Sudan Squad Line-up for picture before Kick Off

“We are starting at zero. We have nothing in our hands, we are starting as God has created us,We won independence with the help of the international community. We were clear what goal we had, we knew the tactics of the enemy  -Benjamin Oliver

The next step for South Sudan and an important objective is to be recognised by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football.There have been many examples in history of using football as a national identity in order to gain political credibility and also to forge an identity within the United Nations.A perfect example of this is Palestine who are recognised by FIFA and not by the UN due to the belief that football created a unity in the region and are now the only independent region that is allowed to raise and fly the Palestine flag . Another example would be Iraq, a nation riddled with war and strife and has used football to unite the country and bring back a sense of hope and pride which eventually shone through in the 2007 Asia Games and the list can go on and on.

South Sudan and the SSFF know that the journey to bring stability to the country is going to be a long and arduous journey but one with huge gains.The SSFF wants to bring all 64 tribes together and deliver a network which brings sport to all the tribes creating communication links and access to a symbol ,a symbol of hope and perseverance a symbol of a united football nation. This idea of  networking the nation through integration into sport is already having a positive effect as 15,000 South Sudanese watched and cheered on the new team play with pride and waiving the new National flag which has been modelled on the Liberation movement flag.The new integration plan was also in full swing in the picking of the new national anthem which was chosen by using a system much like the X-Factor and the winning song called ” South Sudan Oyee” was written by students at the nations new capital and university Juba University.

We were all very emotional as it was the first time that our national team played, singing the national anthem – Makuac Teny, Minister for Sport

South Sudan has become a jewel in Africa’s crown and a positive model and example of modern innovation and human determination in which they are credited all over the world.Some have questioned sports role and ability in developing infrastructure in any developing country, but i think people forget that South Sudan is a brand new country and hope and pride which has been missing since the 50’s in the region will create a mental opportunity to grow and for the people to help themselves alongside the International community which will be instrumental in the stability of the region.Sport has a special way of growing economy,opportunity and national pride and now they have firmly placed themselves in the position to receive outside international investment in which their stadium was built and funded from Chinese investment who have strong intentions in the country and if there was ever a finer example , once again I refer back to Palestine and Iraq who used football for a power of good and reaped huge benefits, never underestimate the power of football

A national football team is the nation made flesh; it’s the visible manifestation of a nation,” said Simon Kuper, journalist and author of “Football Against the Enemy,”