In recent months, since the launch of FitSriLanka, several deserving athletes who were so far unidentified, some even living below the poverty line, have been encouraged to come forward and display their talent.
Since its launch, the FitSriLanka team have been travelling to all nine provinces, identifying youth who have the talent to represent Sri Lanka in local and international level sports tournaments, and these youth are now being trained and advised to further work on their capabilities.
During these past few months, sports tournaments have been organised by the FitSriLanka team, in villages and districts, where these athletes have been trained and given the opportunity to showcase their talent. The talent we have identified so far has been amazing.
There however have been some queries raised in recent weeks, as to whether Sri Lanka can excel in sports. Right now, Sri Lanka is facing a lot of political interference in our national cricket which has demotivated our players, and we are lacking strong sports policies, but no one should reach to a conclusion that Sri Lanka has no talent to excel in sports.
The most recent proof of this is the women’s national netball team who performed brilliantly in the Netball World Cup held in Liverpool recently. Sri Lanka’s star player Tharjini Sivalingam was named as the highest scorer of the world cup tournament with 348 goals and Sri Lanka ended the tournament pulling in at 15th place.
Sri Lanka has a population of 21 million, which makes us almost in par with Australia who has a population of 24 million. Today, Australia excels in its sports due to its strong sports policies put forward by the government as well as the public perception that sports was an important part of life.
Australians have excelled in several sports, starting from cricket to swimming and today it has emerged as a popular sporting nation. So with very close population numbers, why is it that Australia has excelled in its sports so much while Sri Lanka is still struggling to identify talent in all forms of sport.
New Zealand is also another fine example. With a population of 4.8 million, today New Zealand has excelled in many global sporting tournaments, the latest being their brilliant performance at the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup where they ended as runners up whilst the New Zealand netball women’s team went on to win the Netball World Cup. Their performance in all forms of sport, is commendable.
If any Sri Lankan citizen today has questions if Sri Lanka can excel in its sports, the answer is very much yes. Our sports sector only needs guidance, strong policies, and the necessary facilities and definitely no political interference.
The FitSriLanka team has been working tirelessly these few months to identify talent, organize tournaments, and encourage the youth to excel in their fields and very soon this talent will be able to represent Sri Lanka at the national level as they are being trained. All they need is encouragement and the proper facilities to move forward.
In the coming weeks, FitSriLanka will organize a cricket tournament in the north, where several identified youth will be taking part. The players will be trained and the FitSriLanka team will ensure that all deserving players will then be trained accordingly. In the future we have planned to have several such tournaments in other forms of sports, ranging from swimming to badminton and running so that Sri Lanka too can produce the best.
Whilst FitSriLanka is concentrating on sports, it has also begun to travel across the country, promoting fitness, health, education etc. Those who have any proposals on how we could improve our policies in these areas can come forward and discuss it with our teams. As we want FitSriLanka to be people centric rather than having just a few individuals making decisions.
FitSriLanka has purely been launched to serve the people, to listen to their views so that the right talent can be identified and put forward, without any corruption or red tape and definitely without political interference. It is also launched to encourage Sri Lankans to be healthy and to concentrate more on sports.
I assure you, in a few years, Sri Lanka indeed will be back on the global rankings once again.