It has been weeks since I was appointed as the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, a task which I value so much that it has become my priority to work for the betterment of the youth and development of sports in this country.
As a sports lover, from a very young age, I have done much to work towards the development of the sports sector, even during my father’s presidency between 2005 to 2015. We successfully launched the Carlton Rugby Sevens which eventually turned into an international sporting event, exposing our local talent to international players and trainees and earning them much recognition.
Today, as I now head the Ministry, within weeks we have made plans. Firstly, within a week since I was appointed, I appointed the new Sports Council which consists of members who are masters in their own respective fields and is headed by cricketing legend Mahela Jayawardena. The main aim of forming this sports council is to identify ways to restructure the entire sports system in Sri Lanka, which has been neglected to a great extent in recent years. A new Sports Act will also be introduced, keeping in line with the domestic and international trends. Training for several new sports need to be launched in Sri Lanka and talent has to be identified in all districts. I am confident that our youth and children have immense talent and if properly trained can have the capability of competing in international sporting events.
Also my believe is governmental departments or ministries cannot work in silos for the betterment of the country. Cross functional teams should be created among different ministries to increase the productivity of certain projects. Thus my ministry is also in discussions with other ministries such as Education etc to develop sports at the school level. Being an active rugby player when I was in school myself, I do know the importance of further strengthening sports among students and in schools, so that children are trained at an early age. This leads to physical fitness which is extremely important, and also helps us in the governing level to identify the correct talent to represent the country in local and domestic games. Training at an early age is followed in all sporting countries and it is something I will now pursue closely with the schools.
Further while work has begun in transforming the island’s sports sector, work has also begun in strengthening the youth sector. I have always maintained and highlighted in my previous articles that the youth are the backbone of any country, the strength, the future and an unimaginable asset. Sri Lanka must not forget that we are a nation who has suffered much, going through two youth uprisings in the past which cost the nation heavily. While times have now changed, I am determined to work for Sri Lankan youth who have the talent and capability to transform this country into a super power in the region as well as compete in international forums, which will bring much repute to the island country.
From the Youth Ministry side, I am now looking at restructuring the youth council and all other organizations which come under this ministry and to launch a digital platform to bring everything under one umbrella so that I can make it more accessible for the public.
I am also looking at introducing a new youth act as the last act was introduced in 1979, which to some extent is now outdated as the world has entered a new era of data and technology. I will look at having a new approach to address the issues facing the youth and will also work closely with other ministries such as Housing, Skills Development, Foreign Employment, Education etc, to provide more opportunities and affordable housing for the youth.
In the days ahead as the Minister, I am committed to make a change in the fields which have been allocated to me. While it is a great responsibility for me it is something I assure you all I will work towards. Sri Lanka has long faced severe obstacles and a civil war which shattered us as a whole. Then last year’s Easter attacks pulled us back once again and just when we were recovering we were hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Sri Lanka has always risen from its struggles. There has never been a time where we have plunged further into chaos and that is because of the hard dedication of our citizens. While I will now work dedicatedly for the sports sector and the youth of our country, I invite you all to join me. To reach out to me with any proposals you have and to join me as we transform Sri Lanka into a great sporting nation as well and transform this country into a strong platform for our youth.