JUBA, July 20 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan aims to intensify resource mobilization and training of its national team in an ambitious to qualify for the 2023 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Basketball World Cup, a senior official from the national basketball governing body said on Saturday.
Acuil Banggol Malith, secretary general of South Sudan Basketball Federation (SSBF), said they have started early preparations for the zonal preliminary qualifiers set to begin in 2021.
South Sudan failed to make it to this year's showpiece after failing to raise money to send their national team for the qualifier games.
Malith said the world's youngest nation seeks to build a strong national team and also step up resource mobilization ahead of the 2023 World Cup to be jointly hosted by Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan.
"The potential is huge in terms of talents and in terms of capacities. So the chances are there and we have to explore. The only thing is training, exposure and mobilizing resources," Malith told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Basketball is the second most popular sport in South Sudan after football, but due to protracted years of civil war, the game has failed to pick up in most rural areas due to insecurity and undeveloped sports infrastructure.
Malith said SSBF's main focus is nurturing young talent capable of building a competitive national team in the near future.
"With the training program for junior players, with training for the coaches, we will prepare the juniors to become national players and they go international," said Malith.
"For us to have 12 good players is not a challenge and it is possible and South Sudan is likely to emerge as one of the basketball powerhouse in Africa or in the world," he added.