When Bul Kuol talks about basketball, there is an underlying message about the power of sport to bring people together.
Bul arrived in Canberra at nine years of age with his mother and four siblings after growing up in a refugee camp.
He couldn’t speak English, but he had the gift of sporting ability, which quickly broke down barriers.
Football was his sport of choice at first before he discovered basketball in Canberra. As it turned out, he was incredibly good at it.
Now at 26 years of age, he has the world literally in his hands.
In the 2021-22 season, Bul was named the NBL Rookie of the Year in his debut season for the Cairns Taipans.
The same year he was invited to train alongside fellow NBA draft prospects at the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It was awesome to work out with those players and to see a glimpse of the NBA environment,” Bul recalls.
This may have been seen as the high point in his career, but the best was about to come for the South Sudanese refugee.
He was about to play a key role in helping South Sudan qualify for the FIBA World Cup in their first attempt as an independent country.
“This was by far one of the most incredible things in my career. It meant a lot to each and every one of us,” said Bul.
“It is a unifying experience. This is something that everybody agrees upon and, hopefully, it can create momentum for unity. Qualifying for the World Cup has been an incredible positive. It has brought people together.”
For the moment, he is back in Canberra after playing the NBL off-season in France.
He will return for a third season with Cairns later this year after the August World Cup.
In the meantime, he is spending time with his family in Canberra. And there is plenty of family. His sister has eight kids and his brother has four.
He’s still managed to find time to organise a clinic for young players at the Belconnen Basketball Stadium on 13 and 14 July.
Once again, he is optimistic that it will be a unifier.
“This is a chance to bring people together, to create an environment where young people can be inspired. It can be a catalyst through a positive experience.”
As to his prospects of playing in the NBA, it would appear they are on hold for now, but it could be part of his future.
“It is a possibility,” he says. “From my perspective, my faith will play a major role.”
In the meantime, for young basketball players in Canberra, Bul is offering his time, expertise and generous spirit. It’s an offer too great to miss.
For workshop details, visit the Basketball ACT website.