Jerry Steele, a retired American basketball player and coach is the new head coach of South Sudan men’s national, the country’s Basketball Federation confirmed on this week.
In a statement, the governing body of basketball in the country said that the US-based coach has signed an agreement through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Steele, who helped Palestine to a 4-4 mark at the FIBA Asia Championship 2015, will be tasked to build a team from scratch.
The agreement, the Federation said, “authorises coach Jerry to engage with all potential national team players globally”.
However, Steele is not really new to South Sudan basketball. Last summer, he led the team to the title of the Indigenous Championship in Vancouver, Canada, and fans started to take notice.
Talking to FIBA.com, Steele said the South Sudan Basketball Federation is both eager and excited to get their national team program up and running.
“The enthusiasm is great and the potential is almost unlimited,” he pointed out. “Due to recent efforts, we have now begun to hear from players, coaches and agents so we are encouraged. We are still behind in the process so we can use all the help we can get to make contact with potential national team players.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to be the very first national team in a young country that could really use something positive to rally around. So we hope South Sudanese all over the globe get excited about joining us and letting us know where the players are.”
Asked when and where the first contact with the team will be, Steele explained: “What I would like is to have a relatively brief camp, perhaps in the US as I have already heard from some training groups willing to help. Then I’d like to get a few friendly games in if we can. My preference is to play the best competition we can find for those games.”
Steele’s appointment is the first step towards South Sudan’s preparations for the qualifiers for FIBA AfroBasket 2017.