Sports in South Sudan
Many traditional and modern games and sports are popular in South Sudan, particularly wrestling and mock battles. The traditional sports were mainly played after the harvest seasons to celebrate the harvests and finish the farming seasons. During the matches, they smeared themselves with ochre – perhaps to enhance the grip or heighten their perception. The matches attracted large numbers of spectators who sang, played drums and danced in support of their favourite wrestlers. Though these were perceived as competition, they were primarily for entertainment.
Association football is also becoming popular in South Sudan, and there are many initiatives by the Government of South Sudan and other partners to promote the sport and improve the level of play. One of these initiatives is South Sudan Youth Sports Association (SSYSA). SSYSA is already holding football clinics in Konyokonyo and Muniki areas of Juba in which young boys are coached. In recognition of these efforts with youth football, the country recently hosted the CECAFA youth football competitions. Barely a month earlier, also hosted the larger East African Schools Sports tournaments.
The South Sudan national association football team joined the Confederation of African Football in February 2012 and became a full FIFA member in May 2012. The team played its first match against Tusker FC of the Kenyan Premier League on 10 July 2011 in Juba as part of independence celebrations, scoring early but losing 1–3 to the more experienced team. Famous South Sudanese footballers are James Moga, Richard Justin, Athir Thomas, Goma Genaro Awad, Khamis Leyano, Khamis Martin and Roy Gulwak.
The South Sudanese can boast links to top basketball players. Luol Deng is a National Basketball Association star in the United States, where he plays for the Los Angeles Lakers; at the international level, he represents Great Britain. Other leading international basketball players from South Sudan include Manute Bol, Kueth Duany, Deng Gai, Ater Majok, and Thon Maker. The South Sudan national basketball team played its first match against the Uganda national basketball team on 10 July 2011 in Juba.
One athlete from South Sudan, Guor Marial, competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Due to South Sudan not as yet possessing an official Olympics organization, and Marial not yet possessing American citizenship, he, along with three athletes from the former Netherlands Antilles, competed under the banner of Independent Olympic Athletes.
On 2 August 2015 at the 128th IOC Session, South Sudan was granted full recognition of its National Olympic Committee. South Sudan competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics with three athletes in track and field. No medals were won during this Olympics.