Juba — South Sudan on Thursday said it planned to build its first ever modern football stadium in the Lakes state capital, Rumbek.
The government made the pledge during an official function marking the opening of the first intra-schools competition which started in Rumbek on Thursday. The event, which drew school teams from across the nation, was attended by government officials who highlighted South Sudan's interest in joining the world of international sport.
South Sudan was admitted to the Confederation of African Football in February and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) in May. Most recently the team drew 2-2 against Uganda in a match held in Juba in May.
"We will build the first modern football stadium here; the minister of youth and sports is determined to do it. The government is determined to build it", vice president Riek Machar said at the event.
He also commended the success of the South Sudanese army, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) whose volleyball team which won a trophy in an East African tournament.
He said that the South Sudanese people "have the potential" for sporting success, suggesting it could be because "we have the tallest people" or due to generations of people herding cattle. He acknowledged that additional training and investment would be required.
Physical education teachers and stadiums would be required for sporting progress to be made, explained Machar.
Since refusing to run for Sudan, marathon runner Guor Marial will run at the London Olympics without the flag of his nation, as South Sudan is yet to establish the prerequisite National Olympic Committee.
South Sudanese Lopez Lomong will run the Olympic 5,000m for the United States, where he sought asylum in 2007.
Western Bahr el Ghazal state minister of youth and sports, Anyar Anyar, on Thursday told Sudan Tribune that sport has the potential to dissuade people from tribalism and to promote peace and unity.
Machar also announced that the second anniversary celebrations of South Sudan's independence would be celebrated in Lakes state.