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South Sudan’s Chan: The first African woman NBA scouting manager

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South Sudan’s Chan: The first African woman NBA scouting manager - Sports Leo

South Sudan’s Sarah Chan has come a long way from her war-torn homeland to become the first African female scouting manager in the US National Basketball Association (NBA).

Chan, 33, was born into conflict in South Sudan before she fled to Kenya at age 12 with her family.

Life in Kenya, was far from comfortable for Chan as her parents were forced to work multiple jobs to provide enough income for the family of five.

At 1.9m tall, Chan was physically well-suited to basketball – though it was not her sport of choice.

“I went to high school at Kaiser Hill Academy in Nairobi and, although I had been asked to join the basketball team, I refused,” Chan was quoted as saying by

“However, when I was 17, it became compulsory for all students to play sports and so I hesitantly joined the basketball team, and it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

“There, I did not only fell in love with the sport, but our coach, Tom Opal, who had a military background not only instilled in us the passion for basketball, but also discipline, respect and excellence.”

After finishing high school Chan won a basketball scholarship to the United States International University (USIU). Less than a year into her degree, she won another scholarship.

“In 2007 I got a full paid scholarship to Union University in Tennessee, USA. There I majored in History and minored in Political Science and got to play for the university team, the Lady Bulldogs. In the four seasons, I was with the team, I played the position of power forward and centre.”

After completing her studies in 2011, she travelled to Europe and played professionally in Spain and Portugal, before finally returning to Africa to represent top clubs in Tunisia, Angola and Mozambique.

Although her basketball career was progressing well, Chan had growing concerns about South Sudan with her family moving back to their country of birth. In 2015, she began studying for her Master’s degree in International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies at USIU.

Though she continued to play competitively in this time, it was a career-ending spinal injury that forced her hand in 2017. Without any career prospects, she volunteered for a non-profit organisation Giants of Africa (GOA) and attended a camp in Kenya. There she met US President Barack Obama who was in Kenya at the time, as well as Masai Ujiri, the General Manager of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.

Soon after Chan’s meeting with Ujiri, he offered her the job of scouting talent, coaching and organising the GOA camps in Africa. In 2019 she was appointed Africa Scouting Manager for the Toronto Raptors.

Now, Chan spends most of her time travelling between Kenya, America and Canada in the constant search of talent and is doing her bit bring opportunities to those who would otherwise have none.

In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo

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