SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - Zeinab Chan took the 2015 FIBA African Champions Cup for Women (ACCW) by storm for Kenyan side United States International University (USIU) and she is now using that same perseverance to drive her dream of one day leading her native South Sudan on the international stage.
As well as leading all players in scoring and rebounding with averages of 26 points and 12 boards in seven games, the 29-year-old center Chan was named to the All-Tournament team along with MVP Leia Dongue, Maimouna Diarra, Italee Lucas and Ana Suzana Jaime. It was Chan's highest personal recognition while competing in the ACCW for the third time.
But, like many other South Sudanese - Luol Deng, Thon Maker, Kueth Duany and Deng Adel just to mention a few - the 29-year-old who left their native country due to the political instability, can't wait to see South Sudan taking on fellow Africans.
Chan, who played college basketball for Union University in the United States and played professional basketball in Portugal and Spain, accepted to talk to me. I asked the player who calls neighbouring Kenya her home, to share with us her story, and look ahead of basketball in South Sudan.
Family and the WNBA dream
"I was raised in Kenya, with my three siblings, of whom two went through USIU (older brother Arou Ramadan and youngest sister Deborah Ramadan)," Chan said. "My supportive parents instilled in us discipline, hardworking, self-respect and respect for others, and most importantly authority, passion, self-drive, integrity and above all God first.
"I got invited to the Indiana Fever's WNBA camp, but it didn't quite work as I expected but glory be to God, His plans are not our plans.
"South Sudan's national team formation and basketball at large is underway," she told me.
“As a nation we are praying for stability first and then all that will be easily formed. But the future is bright. - Chan
"South Sudan is blessed with height which is the first advantage in basketball.
"Due to the instability in South Sudan, many people were displaced and most in diaspora like myself are getting opportunities to play quality basketball and education as well.
"So when things are settled and politically stable, most will come home and hence will be easier to represent our nation."
“What motivates me is the Biblical teachings, self discipline, sacrifice and the passion for the game. - Chan
"In everything you do you do it to the best of your ability not for men but as though you are doing it for the Lord. And I have a loving and supportive family and basketball community around me.
"It's a blessing," Chan concluded.