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Madol family making names known in Saskatchewan 

Written by: Matt Johnson for Sask Sport 

For the Madol family, lives immersed in sport is all they have ever known. 

Born in Regina, Amou and Ajok Madol have vivid childhood memories of filing one-by-one into their mother’s car packed with food for the day, as they stay for hours on hours at the city’s soccer facilities to play games and spectate their siblings on the turf. 

“We loved the sport and [my mom] loves watching — it didn’t feel like a burden to be there all the time. We were just excited to go out there, compete and have fun,” said Amou, the second-eldest of the five siblings who now stars on the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s soccer team. “It was definitely chaotic. I look back and I’m like ‘I don’t really know that all happened’ — but we did it, and we’re here.” 

Abuk Akuer and Deng Madol immigrated to Canada in 2000 with their eldest child, Majok Modal, who went on to play postsecondary basketball south of the border at South Carolina State University before concluding his collegiate career with his hometown University of Regina Cougars in 2022-23. 

It was through sport that the Madols found their footing in Canada. The five children — Majok (25), Amou (23), Akol (20), Ajok (18) and Cher (16) — have helped form a powerhouse Saskatchewan sporting family through their success, whether it be on the basketball court, soccer pitch or in athletics after each attending Archbishop MC O’Neill Catholic High School in Regina. 

They’ve taken full advantage of the opportunity their parents helped provide them when they elected to move their family from current day South Sudan more than 23 years ago — a transition Amou admits that wouldn’t have been easy for her family, with Canadian culture bringing a different language and environment.  

“This country that was so foreign to them, they made it into a home and somewhere we’re comfortable in and have found success. We’ve overcome all the barriers that have been in our way” said Amou.  

Their mom pushed for her kids to get involved in sport as a way to get active and encouraged them to try new sports along the journey.  

“It’s tough to say if they didn’t come to Canada, what would have happened to us — would we even be athletes? Where would we be?” said Amou. 

For Ajok, she is currently in the midst of a transition of her own. Fresh off a historic summer where she was a part of the U19 Women’s National Team that claimed bronze at the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup — the country’s second-ever medal in the history of the tournament — she moved to the United States, just like her oldest brother Majok, to pursue postsecondary basketball. 

The heavily recruited six-foot-two forward is a freshman on the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s basketball team, competing in the Big Ten Conference against some of the premiere programs in the country. 

Matt Dominguez, a member of the 2007 Grey Cup-winning Saskatchewan Roughriders, helped instil a belief in Ajok as her coach that playing NCAA Division 1 basketball was something she had the potential to do. And since she stepped foot into high school at O’Neill, she knew it was the route she wanted to take. 

Now living in Minneapolis, it’s been her support system back home that she’s relied on, including Majok and Amou, who they try to talk for a couple hours each day. 

“Just having people who understand the grind it takes to be an athlete — all of our schedules are all so hectic —it’s nice to have siblings who are in a similar situation as you and they resonate with how you’re feeling and you’re able to confide in them when you’re going through tough times,” said Amou. 

Cher, the youngest of the five siblings plays high school basketball at O’Neill, while Akol halted his postsecondary soccer pursuits after enrolling at the University of Regina.   

“I think sport has helped us bond and become even closer,” said Ajok. “We’re always seeking criticism from each other and I think that competitiveness really made us be better athletes.” 

It’s hard not to reflect on the journey that all started when the family moved to Regina and think about their rise in the Saskatchewan sporting scene. 

“I think we definitely do have moments where we are, we take a step back and just like, look at how far we’ve come. Because it was obviously not easy to get here,” said Amou, who joined the Huskies after suiting up with the Regina Cougars as a two-sport athlete with the soccer and track and field teams, which she won a Canada West high jump bronze medal with in 2019.  

“We’re grateful and we’re proud of [each other] for making it as far as we could. We really appreciate how we’ve all influenced each other.” 

Now, they’re hoping that they’re able to use their athletic and academic success as representation for the next generation of young athletes in the province. 

“If you’re not seeing a lot of people that look like you, in whatever you’re trying to pursue, it might seem impossible to achieve what you’re trying to achieve. For us, being in this position, we’re not role models or anything, but it just shows that anything you put your mind to, you can do,” said Ajok. 

“Hopefully if people do look up to us, they feel that they can do what we did,” added Amou. 

That piece of representation is timely not only during February with Black History Month — but all throughout the calendar year to celebrate the success and tribulations of Black people in all facets of life. 

“It’s a way to look at the successes that Black individuals have made,” said Ajok. “It’s still very prevalent that so many Black individuals have been experiencing racism within workplaces, schools or wherever they are, I think it’s a way for us to educate ourselves on anti-racism and acknowledge Black people are humans and they should be treated with the respect every human deserves.” 

“I think it’s an important time where Black people are uplifted and we’re celebrating how far we’ve come, but I think it’s also a time to not be comfortable with where we are. There’s still a long ways to go. Systemic racism is alive and well and in everything — so we need to keep moving forward,” said Amou.