By Chris Wilson – on behalf of BACT Media Unit

Basketball helped South Sudanese refugee Bul Kuol adapt to Australian life, now Canberra’s National Basketball League (NBL) star wants to help build more positive community connections through the sport.

Kuol is reuniting with family at home in Canberra during the NBL off-season and will host a junior camp at Belconnen Basketball Stadium on 13-14 July, before he makes history by representing South Sudan at the FIBA Basketball World Cup starting in August.

Kuol faced a personal dilemma during World Cup qualification, invited to train with his adopted home, Australia, or to represent his country of birth, South Sudan.

The 26-year-old says he will be forever grateful for the opportunities Canberra and Australian basketball have given him and his family, which extend well beyond sport. He couldn’t speak English when, aged just nine, he arrived in Canberra with his mother and four siblings.

But Kuol says the chance to play for South Sudan was too good to pass up. It was an opportunity, through sport, to unify the country, as well as migrant South Sudanese communities across the world.

In some way, Kuol feels he will be representing the best of South Sudan and Australia at the World Cup.

“When I came to Australia, I couldn’t even speak English, but basketball helped take me out of my home environment and my comfort zone,” Kuol says. “Basketball opened doors for me. It taught me so many things, how to meet people, to socialise and to gain new skills. Most importantly, it helped me build relationships and friendships that have helped me become who I am now.

“I think there’s more impact with me joining the South Sudanese team. I wanted to be part of something that’s building. Australia is already one of the best teams in the world, they’re top-four, they’ve established who they are, they’ve won a medal at the Olympics, they have players in the NBA.

“But this is probably the best opportunity I’ll ever get to be part of something that’s beginning, and to inspire the South Sudanese community in Australia.”

South Sudan didn’t exist as a country when Kuol arrived in Australia in 2006. The world’s newest country gained its independence from Sudan in 2011.

Last year, Kuol returned to Africa for the first time in 16 years, incredibly helping South Sudan to qualify for the World Cup at their first attempt.

Players of South Sudanese heritage were drawn together from all around world. Kuol now calls those teammates his “brothers”.

He sees the World Cup as a chance to build optimism and positivity among the South Sudanese community, especially among younger generations.

Kuol grew up in a refugee camp, where gates were locked at sunset, but he looks back on that time fondly.

“We were in a refugee camp, but we got to be kids,” he says. “We’d be outside all day, playing soccer, being reckless and exploring. In the environment we were in, you could easily die. But as kids, we were just living life. When danger comes, you run.

“We look at it in such a positive way, whereas the older generations are a bit traumatised by civil wars and all the things they went through.

“I think this World Cup is going to be something that unites the country and paves the way for the next generation. It’s given the country hope in a lot of ways.

“A lot of the time our culture focuses on negative events and emotions. This is something that’s brought people together in a positive way.

“When we qualified, everybody went crazy, people were running from the crowd to kiss the floor, I’ve never seen anything like that before.

“You can see how the country has received it. No matter where you’re from, what language you speak, they’re all cheering for one team. There’s no division.

“It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve seen, how people are coming together and sharing this. It’s not just us, it’s everybody.”

Kuol only took up basketball when he came to Australia and admits he “flew under the radar” for most of his junior career. A graduate of Canberra’s Lake Ginninderra College, Kuol then attended college in the US, first with California Baptist and then Detroit Mercy.

He returned to Australia and had a breakout season with the Cairns Taipans, named NBL Rookie of the Year in 2021-22. He’s had NBA workouts with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, and just completed his first professional season in France, but will return to the Taipans for a third NBL season in 2023-24.

Kuol, however, says Canberra is home. His July camp will be open to all kids aged 12 and up, and he especially wants to be a role model for the capital’s Sudanese community.

“Canberra’s my roots, it’s where I grew up. A lot of my memories are here and my family’s still here. It’s a huge basketball community and Sudanese community, so every time I come back it’s like grounding myself again.

“I want to be as accessible as I can be, not to have all the answers, but to share a little bit of who I am and the journey I’ve been on. I want to bring people together because in the South Sudanese culture we don’t share enough. Being open and transparent is almost a taboo, we don’t open-up enough. I want to create a culture where we’re coming together in a positive light.”

For more information about Bul Kuol Camps – head to or follow the registration link below:


Bul Kuol Camp


Thursday 13 & Friday 14 JULY 2023




Thursday 13th July 2023 (Skills)

  • 9am – 12pm | 6 -15yrs

  • 1pm – 4pm | 16yrs +

Friday 14th July 2023 (Scrimmage)

  • 9am – 12pm – 6 -15yrs

  • 1pm – 4pm –  16yrs +


$150 per participant

(Scholarships available)


Register for Bul Kuol Camp

Register – Bul Kuol Camp Register – Bul Kuol Camp


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