Juba (Xinhua/UNB) — A group of rugby enthusiasts in South Sudan have embarked on a mission to train young people on how to play the game in a bid to build the country’s first national rugby team.
Emmanuel Lopia, Secretary-General of the South Sudan Rugby Union, a body yet to be officially registered by the South Sudanese government, said they plan to form the country’s national team by the end of 2019.
Lopia said the group has begun training children and youth aged between 25 to 30 in a bid to identify potential candidates for the national rugby team.
“We are planning to form the national rugby team by the end of the year. We have a volunteer coach who is willing to help us after seeing the potential of rugby in South Sudan,” said Lopia.
“We are trying our level best to train as many children as possible so that they can represent South Sudan when the national rugby union team is formed,” he added.
Rugby remains relatively unpopular in the world’s youngest nation compared to football and basketball.
But a local non-profit organization, Tag Rugby Trust South Sudan has embarked on an ambitious project to train young children how to play the game.
The organization’s chairperson Moses Meen, said their main aim is to grow rugby in South Sudan through equipping children with skills while nurturing their talents and capabilities.
“What I can see right now is that rugby is the fastest growing sport in South Sudan,” Meen said. “Imagine we started with one club in February 2018, but as of now, we have six clubs in different areas of Juba. Each club has over 300 kids- both girls and boys,” he added.
Apart from popularizing rugby in South Sudan, Tag Rugby Trust is also using the game to promote p
eace between communities torn apart by almost six years of civil war.”The community is really happy because we are engaging children of different ethnic groups in the game,” Meen said.
Meen said South Sudan has the potential to excel in the internal rugby arena such as the ongoing Rugby World Cup if the country establishes a robust national team.
“We are pushing to have rugby played in schools. I’m sure in the next five years, I hope rugby will be played all over South Sudan and the country is going to be represented in global tournaments,” Meen said.UNB