Sri Lanka’s sporting industry has for years seen many challenges. While the country has gained fame by winning international titles, especially in cricket, it has also seen a downfall in recent years due to undue interference, the lack of identifying true talent and the negligence of providing adequate facilities for our athletes to train.
Within these past few months, since being appointed as the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, I have received several proposals from a wide ranging network of people on how Sri Lanka can uplift its sports sector. I have also studied the obstacles we have faced in this sector and what are the urgent needs for our athletes to prosper. I have always believed that Sri Lankan youth have immense talent but we have long neglected to identify this talent from every part of the country. If equal opportunities are available for all our citizens, the talent this country can nurture is immense.
Keeping this in mind, on Friday, I appointed the High Performance Committee which was categorized into 2 tiers, based on performance. The speciality of this committee is that it consists of members from the National Olympic Council, the National Sports Council and the Department of Sports Development. Objective of this committee is to create a system that can identify and nurture with the aim of international medals. This is the first time such committee has been appointed representing three important institutions which are responsible for the future of sports in Sri Lanka. This committee will work towards developing the sports sector and identifying the right talent that existing in all corners of the country.
Today, as the world becomes more competitive, achieving high performance is of utmost importance. And it is the need of the hour that we restructure this nation’s sports sector and further develop the infrastructure for the benefit of our athletes. Presently the infrastructure available does not match the national sports program and we are now on a path to restructure the system which will cover the entire country. The aim will be to offer a sport to every child, youth and adult in the coming years and to hunt the necessary talent and prepare them for the international games. Developing rural infrastructure is a project I have already started with the necessary organisations.
This high performance committee which was appointed last Friday, which consists of experts, will now begin the task of identifying which sports are lacking in Sri Lanka and then will identify the talented athletes who can perform in those. This committee will work with the national associations in each district, going into every corner of the country, giving equal opportunity for all. With no political pressure, all these high pillars were informed to submit the names of their representatives for the committee and it was on their recommendations that the experts were appointed. Their task will now be to find the athletes as well as look at further assisting the existing sports men and women and prepare them for the international games.
My aim, as the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, is to ensure Sri Lankan youth take part in atleast one sport and stay fit and healthy. Healthy living requires a mindset change which should be planted in the minds of children from a young age.
Furthermore, I am hopeful that this committee will positively impact the sports sector to prepare athletes for international games and help them win medals. Sri Lankan athletes have long been denied the infrastructure and facilities to train in their sport. The nation has long been denying the true talent from surfacing into the limelight.
We have now begun this journey to achieve ambitious goals for our athletes as well as bring Sri Lanka back into the global spotlight, even amidst this contagious pandemic which has gripped the whole world by storm. But with dedication comes true talent and the road has begun.