What is South Sudan’s national sport?

According to recent research, many people are curious about South Sudan’s national sport. In this article, we will explore the question "What is South Sudan’s national sport?" and provide an in-depth analysis of the country’s sporting culture. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or simply interested in learning more about this African nation, we’ve got you covered. Join us as we delve into the history, popular sports, and the impact of sports on South Sudanese society.

History of South Sudan’s national sport

Pre-independence era

Before gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan had a rich history of sporting activities. However, due to the country’s turbulent past, the development of a national sport was hindered. Despite this, various traditional sports were popular among the local communities.

Traditional sports such as wrestling, stick fighting, and running were deeply rooted in South Sudanese culture. These sports not only served as a form of entertainment but also played an essential role in social cohesion and conflict resolution within the communities.

Post-independence era

After achieving independence, South Sudan sought to establish a national sport that would unite the diverse population and represent the country on an international level. The government, along with local sports organizations, began investing in infrastructure and promoting different sports disciplines.

Football emerged as a popular choice for the national sport, as it resonated with the majority of South Sudanese. Efforts were made to develop football leagues, improve training facilities, and create opportunities for talented athletes to showcase their skills. The establishment of the South Sudan Football Association (SSFA) in 2011 further enhanced the development of football in the country.

Apart from football, basketball also gained significant popularity in South Sudan. The country produced several talented basketball players, some of whom have gone on to play professionally in international leagues. The success of South Sudanese basketball players has inspired many young athletes to pursue the sport and has contributed to the growth of the sport at both the grassroots and professional levels.

Impact of civil war on national sport

Unfortunately, the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan in 2013 had a devastating impact on the development of the national sport. The ongoing conflict disrupted sports activities, caused displacement of athletes and coaches, and hindered the growth of sporting infrastructure.

The civil war not only disrupted the progress made in football and basketball but also affected the overall sports culture in the country. Many sports facilities were destroyed or repurposed for other uses during the conflict, making it challenging for athletes to train and compete.

Despite the challenges, the resilience of South Sudanese athletes and sports organizations cannot be overlooked. Efforts are being made to revive and rebuild the national sport, with various initiatives focusing on rehabilitating sports infrastructure and providing support to athletes affected by the conflict.

In conclusion, South Sudan’s national sport has a complex history with the pre-independence era dominated by traditional sports, the post-independence era witnessing the rise of football and basketball, and the civil war causing setbacks to the development of the national sport. However, the determination and passion of South Sudanese athletes continue to drive the revival of the national sport and inspire future generations.

Traditional sports in South Sudan


Wrestling holds a significant place in the traditional sports of South Sudan. It is not just a sport but also a cultural practice that has been passed down through generations. This ancient sport is deeply rooted in the Dinka tribe, the largest ethnic group in the country. Wrestling competitions often serve as a platform for young men to showcase their strength, agility, and bravery. It is not uncommon for these wrestling matches to attract large crowds, with spectators cheering on their favorite wrestlers. The sport of wrestling in South Sudan not only promotes physical fitness but also fosters a sense of camaraderie within the community.

Stick fighting

Another traditional sport that holds great importance in South Sudan is stick fighting. This sport is predominantly practiced by the Nuer and Toposa tribes. Stick fighting involves two individuals armed with long sticks engaging in combat. The objective is to strike the opponent while simultaneously defending oneself. This sport requires a combination of physical strength, agility, and strategic thinking. Stick fighting competitions are often held during cultural events and celebrations, where participants exhibit their bravery and skills. It serves as a way for individuals to prove their courage and gain respect within their communities.


Running is not only a popular recreational activity but also a traditional sport in South Sudan. The country has a long history of producing exceptional long-distance runners. Running competitions are organized at various levels, ranging from local community races to national events. These races often take place in open fields or on rugged terrains, challenging the endurance and speed of the participants. Running is not just a sport but also a way of life in South Sudan, as it represents the resilience and determination of its people. Many young athletes aspire to become professional runners and represent their country in international competitions.

In conclusion, traditional sports in South Sudan such as wrestling, stick fighting, and running play a significant role in the cultural fabric of the nation. These sports not only provide entertainment but also serve as a means to preserve and celebrate the rich heritage of the different tribes. They promote physical fitness, foster community bonds, and showcase the skills and bravery of the participants. The traditional sports of South Sudan are a testament to the resilience and cultural diversity of the country.

Influence of neighboring countries on South Sudan’s national sport


Ethiopia, a neighboring country of South Sudan, has had a significant influence on the development of South Sudan’s national sport. The close proximity and historical ties between the two nations have fostered a cultural exchange, including sporting traditions.

One of the main ways Ethiopia has influenced South Sudan’s national sport is through the introduction of long-distance running. Ethiopian athletes have achieved great success in long-distance running, including winning numerous Olympic medals and setting world records. This success has inspired many South Sudanese athletes to take up long-distance running and strive for excellence in the sport.

Additionally, Ethiopia’s participation in international athletics events has provided South Sudanese athletes with opportunities to compete and gain exposure at a higher level. Through these competitions, South Sudanese athletes have learned from their Ethiopian counterparts, honing their skills and techniques.

Furthermore, Ethiopia’s emphasis on grassroots development and athletics programs has served as a model for South Sudan. The Ethiopian Athletics Federation has implemented initiatives to identify and nurture young talent from a young age, providing them with proper training and resources. South Sudan has started adopting similar programs to identify and develop its own promising athletes.


Uganda, another neighboring country of South Sudan, has also played a significant role in shaping South Sudan’s national sport. The historical and cultural ties between the two nations have contributed to the exchange of sporting traditions and the growth of various sports in South Sudan.

One major influence of Uganda on South Sudan’s national sport is in the discipline of football (soccer). Ugandan football teams and players have had a strong presence in regional tournaments and leagues, gaining recognition and inspiring South Sudanese football enthusiasts. The popularity of football in Uganda has resonated with South Sudan, leading to the growth and development of the sport within the country.

Moreover, Ugandan coaches and trainers have been instrumental in nurturing South Sudanese talent in various sports. They have shared their expertise and knowledge, conducting training sessions and workshops to improve the skills of South Sudanese athletes. This collaboration has helped raise the level of performance and competitiveness of South Sudanese athletes in regional and international competitions.

Furthermore, the proximity of Uganda has allowed for frequent friendly matches and tournaments between the two countries. These interactions have not only fostered healthy sporting rivalries but also provided opportunities for South Sudanese athletes to gain experience and exposure on a larger stage.


Kenya, a neighboring country renowned for its dominance in long-distance running, has had a profound impact on South Sudan’s national sport. The success of Kenyan athletes in long-distance running has served as a source of inspiration and motivation for many South Sudanese athletes.

South Sudanese athletes have often trained with Kenyan counterparts, learning from their training techniques, endurance strategies, and mental preparation. This collaboration has helped South Sudanese athletes refine their skills and improve their performance in long-distance running events.

Moreover, Kenyan coaches and trainers have been influential in South Sudan’s sports development programs. They have shared their expertise and provided guidance to South Sudanese athletes, helping them reach their full potential in various sports disciplines.

In addition, the participation of South Sudanese athletes in Kenyan races and marathons has provided them with exposure and opportunities to compete at an international level. This exposure has not only enhanced their skills but also allowed them to showcase their talent to a wider audience.

Overall, the neighboring countries of Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya have left a lasting impact on South Sudan’s national sport. Through cultural exchanges, shared traditions, and collaborative efforts, these countries have contributed to the growth, development, and success of South Sudanese athletes in various sports disciplines.

The national sport of South Sudan remains a subject of debate and ambiguity. While wrestling holds deep cultural significance and is widely practiced across various communities, there is no officially designated national sport. However, the government has been making efforts to identify and promote a national sport that can unite the diverse population and represent the country on an international level. As South Sudan continues to develop and define its identity, the search for a national sport will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping the nation’s sporting landscape and fostering a sense of unity among its people.

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