The 2013 South Sudanese Australian Summer Slam took over Frankston Basketball Stadium from December 20 to 22 for three days of action packed basketball that saw over 300 players from six states and territories compete across four categories. Newly appointed Helping Hoops committee member, Manyang Berberi, founded the tournament ten years ago, and since then, it has been attended by NBA stars and community leaders such as the late Manute Bol and NBA All Star Luol Deng.
The Summer Slam is not only the most athletic and fast-paced basketball tournament in Australia, but also a chance for the South Sudanese community to gather and celebrate. It is also an opportunity for non-South Sudanese to not only witness some great action on the court, but also learn more about this emerging community, which plays an important part in our identity as a multicultural nation.
The Summer Slam culminated on Sunday, December 22, with the bleachers packed for the finals. The Sydney teams had a particularly successful 2013 campaign, making three finals and winning the Seniors and Under-20’s division. Melbourne’s Longhorns, coached by Manyang, took out the Under 18’s division, while Perth took the Girls’ championship back home to WA.
The tournament came at a time of civil unrest in South Sudan, a fact that was addressed at the beginning of the first day of competition. South Sudanese elders joined players in prayers for the world’s newest country which has endured decades of civil war, leading to the displacement of many who now call Australia home.
Helping Hoops played an important role in 2013, with Executive Director Adam McKay joining Manyang Berberi and members of the South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association on the organising committee. Helping Hoops participants featured in many teams in the Summer Slam, and it was an honour to be able to support such a worthwhile event that embodies the values we strive to instill through our programs.
The tournament, which also features a mid-year event, will again be held in 2014 at a location to be determined. Helping Hoops will once again support in whatever way necessary to ensure the tournament remains one of the most important multicultural events in Australia, sporting or otherwise.