Like most of South Sudan’s families, Arou Chan’s family ran away from the war in the 90s and came to Kenya to seek refuge as well as greener pastures. They arrived in Kenya on August 9th 1998, two days after the infamous terror attack on the American embassy in Nairobi. As a young man his biggest challenge as a refugee was the language barrier and culture shock.

His basketball was unique. Arou did not attend powerhouse basketball schools in Kenya. He went to Forest View Academy, a quiet school in Karen for Form 1 and 2, then moved to Park View Academy in South B for Form 3 and 4. Shockingly, he didn’t play basketball in High School. He first played the game in 2002 in Uganda where he did his A-Levels. This is where he played organized basketball at Hillside Academy under coach Steve Sengo.

He later joined United States International University- Africa in 2006, and here is where basketball became a way of life. Arou’s legend was defined and for six years he played for USIU-Tigers while studying for his Undergraduate and Masters programs. He played under Kenya Lionesses’ Head Coach George Mayenga. While in USIU they battled the biggest and toughest clubs in the country such as KCB lions, Co-op Spartans and Ulinzi Warriors.

Despite not winning any championships with USIU, it is worth noting that the game played back then was tough and he was one of the toughest players in the league. Anyone who knew him in his playing days would attest to that. USIU became the first university team to play the Kenyan Premier league final and later became the first university team to represent Kenya in the then annual Regional Zone 5 competition paving way for other universities in the region,   like Strathmore University (Kenya) and Uganda Christian University (Uganda).

From Left: Mohamed Santur, Arou Chan and Grace Kwizera

In 2013, he joined the prestigious Makerere University in Uganda to get his PHD. While there, his thirst for basketball needed to be quenched. He started looking for a small team in the lower division where he could blow off some steam. Through his childhood friend, Faisal Said, a nephew to Mohamed (Geddi) Santur, City Oilers team owner, Arou joined the team which had just been promoted to the top league.

“I just thought to myself that I wanted to tryout with them, little did I know that the ‘small’ team was surrounded by great minds and the most ambitious basketball gurus in the region. So just like that I found myself playing for a team that was majestically assembled under coach Mande Jeruni.”

Arou won his first championship with City Oilers in 2013 in their inaugural season and he followed it up with another championship in the 2014 season. City Oilers have won the Ugandan Basketball title seven times and have also bagged the Zone V title twice.

“The Gurus had a vision. I can go on and on about City Oilers because they had a great impact in my life off and on the court.”

In 2015, Arou returned to Kenya, and joined Kenya Ports Authority under another great coach, Anthony Ojukwu,

“I loved playing for him because his coaching philosophy suited my style of play.”

Arou won 3 championships with KPA in Kenya. In 2019, he went back home to Juba, anticipating his retirement, but fate had a different mission. He found himself in Nimra Talata, a club under Coach Deng Aldo, and won a championship with them, then moved to Black Stars under Coach Garang Barjohk and Coach Malang Karbino and won his last championship with them. After bagging seven championships in three different countries, the charismatic and energetic player called game and retired.

Arou Chan with Luol Deng (left) South Sudanese Basketball Federation President

His love for basketball is immeasurable.

“The game was so nice to me, I somehow knew that I will always be around basketball, I knew that I have to give back in one way or another, especially to my people, so when my name was called to do my ‘small’ part in shaping and helping develop my country’s basketball, I did not hesitate.”

He stepped in to play the not so ‘small’ role in developing basketball in South Sudan. This led to him becoming the first and only FIBA Commissioner in South Sudan history. An honor, and something that he doesn’t take for granted.

“We are shaping our country basketball-wise and as a result, with the new federation led by Luol Deng, the world now knows about South Sudan’s basketball from the just concluded AfroBasket.”

South Sudan made history by participating for the first time in the Afrobasket and reaching the quarterfinals and only falling short to the defending and eventual champions, Tunisia. The world now knows about South Sudan and Arou is optimistic that they will be back.

In a career full of success he shares his life lessons and advice and that is:

Being coachable/ a willingness to learn 
Trusting the process
Connecting the dots backwards

Arou Chan (right) at the FIBA Afrobasket 2021 Kigali

He also expressed gratitude to notable people who helped shape a career rich in inspiration and motivation

“A lot of people have played important roles in my journey, my parents for supporting the path in sports that my siblings and I chose.”

His family is deeply rooted in sports, both his sisters Sarah Chan and Deborah Chan were superstars way before the legend of Arou began.
Arou also remembers Coach George Mayenga (Kenya Lionesses), coach Anthony Ojukwu (Kenya Ports Authority) and coach Mande Jeruni (City Oilers Uganda) who have all played very important roles in his life.

There was also Boniface Salano (USIU), Mohamed Gedi Santur (City Oilers) and Christopher “Magic” Owiti (KPA). The three are most important to him. In their respective organizations, they helped shaped him to what he is today.

“They taught me discipline, hardwork, leadership and organization just to name a few, tools that I have carried with me beyond basketball.”

There are a few referees that played a very important role in his path to becoming a commissioner, both in Kenya and Uganda. Most notable Referee was Joseph Amoko.

“For the old school players and fans who watched me play in my early days know very well how hot headed I was. Amoko used to give me nightmares and I disliked him so much, because he did not tolerate my misconduct and always ejected me or banned me for several games. He kept me in check, and I am forever grateful for his strict nature.”

The two are now great friends. He says Amoko is one of his greatest mentors in basketball.

Lastly he applauds the South Sudan Basketball Federation for giving him an opportunity to represent his country. Notable mentions are the Secretary General Mr Mariar and President Luol Deng for the new youthful vision.

Arou (right) working as a FIBA Commissioner in Kigali

Being a Commissioner comes with great responsibilities and the process is mentally exhausting. Arou took his time and focused on taking up the challenge. As the hard worker he is known to be, he nailed it. Driven by patriotism he vowed not to let South Sudan down.

“As tough as it was, I did the course work, aced the exams on the first try, and just like that, South Sudan got its first Certified FIBA Commissioner.”

We at Th3 Doctor’s Report congratulate you Mr. Commissioner.

By Ariel Okall


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