The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Dr. Cirino Hiteng Ofuho officially launched the South Sudan Independence Marathon yesterday at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting's Press Hall.
The activity which will be held on 7th July, 2012 at Juba Stadium, is one of series of sporting activities to be conducted in marking the first anniversary of the birth of Republic of South Sudan.
Hiteng said his Ministry is establishing or reviving all forms of sports in the country in an attempt to identify talented youths. "As we have very ambitious plans for sports, I wish to reiterate the government commitment for the promotion of these activities," the Minister said. He said what he launched yesterday is one of the series of sporting activities that could position South Sudan as a major competitor in the region and across the world. We are hopeful three to five years, we will be major competitors in international sporting events, he said.
South Sudan Independence Marathon is sponsored by a number of corporate companies in the country. Among them; are the United Agency Limited, Tong Group, Canaan Water, and The Citizen Newspaper Limited. These companies are working around the clock to fulfill their social responsibility by joining hands with government in delivering services to the public.
Ms. Mungoma Annie, the United Agency Event Coordinator said $30,000 (thirty thousands US dollars) is currently earmarked for the event. "We have budget of $30,000 dollars and along the way, we hope we may get other sponsors," Ms. Annie said. The budget will carter for all elements and activities of event including security and other services, she explained.
The number of participants in the marathon is expected to reach a thousand to contest various categories of modals as per different level of distances. However, the participation will be voluntary. There will be a twenty-one-kilometer distance competition, in which the participants are expected to be professional athletes. The second category is a ten-kilometer distance for novice athletes. And the last category is a five-kilometer meant for senior citizens. However, the participation is opened to all interested individuals irrespective of nationality.
According to Jim Long John, the chairperson of South Sudan Athletic Federation, the committee has been set up to work jointly with Corporate representatives in identifying talented individuals, register them and carry out the programme to its success.
Due to decades of conflict with its erstwhile mother country Sudan, South Sudan remains virgin in all sorts of sporting activities as it never developed all its major sporting institutions. "The development of our country is not only about infrastructure, but also sporting," said Malaak Philip Chol, Group Operation's Manager for Tong Group Africa, one of corporate sponsors for the event. This point is echoed by Canaan Water representative, Mr. Bereket Negasi Isaac. "Our endeavor is to make change in the new state of South Sudan."