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South Sudan embarks on football competition to promote peace and unity

August 30,2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan is organizing national football competitions in attempt to promote peace and unity amongst the young nations diverse ethnic groups often seen as divided by tribal conflicts usually associated to cattle theft.

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Nahda Bentiu Club from Unity State (Photo: Northern Bahr el Ghazal State Ministry of Youth)

The country is also taking advantage of the exercise to meet requirements needed by international sports associations to gain membership of various organisations. South Sudan’s Football Association is organising competition between various clubs to find the countries best players and teams before finals are held in the capital Juba.

On 18 August Aweil Meriekh club from Northern Bahr El Ghazal State (NBGS) played Nahda Bentiu Club from Unity State. The first match was played in Aweil town, the capital of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, inaugurated by Tong Deng Anei, the state’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. In other leg was played in Bentiu on 27 August.

With the winning team scheduled to play in the national semi-final 9 September was stiff competition.

Meriekh Aweil won both matches and will go on to play in the semi-final on 9 September in the capital Juba.

Garang Akok, Chairman of Meriekh Aweil Club, told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that he always had confidence in his team, which won the last game in Bentiu 2-1.

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Aweil Meriekh club from Northern Bahr El Ghazal State (Photo: Northern Bahr el Ghazal State Ministry of Youth)

Abdullah Deng, Acting Director General in the ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture commended the competition and said his ministry encouraged the healthy competition.

He said that their experience of playing a high tempo passing game had made the team "professional and efficient”.

Garang Kuol, Chairman of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State Football Association, agreed with Deng’s argument about preparing adequately for matches.

Tong Deng Anei, Minister of Sports in Northern Bahr el Ghazal said he sees the football competition as an opportunity to promote peace and unity amongst various youth groups across the country.

“This is very important for the youth of the entire country and it should be done through fair competition among the young professional players”, Anei said in a statement.

The Northern Bahr el Ghazal minister further added that “one of importance aspect of this tournament was that it brought exchange visits between the young leaders and develops close relationship among them”.

He congratulated Aweil Meriekh Club for working hard to win and overcoming not only the other team but the treacherous muddy road between Rumbek and Bentiu.

"You have won the trust of the people of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State”, he said in a statement, encouraging the team to prepare "to face the strong teams that include, Akuach of Rumbek, Nasir of Juba and Meriekh Renk”.

He also thanked Nahda Bentiu for having taken their time to come to Aweil despite numerous logistical difficulties and for welcoming Meriekh Aweil in Bentiu.

“You don’t know how much we have appreciated the hospitality you accorded to the team," he added.

(ST)