By David StephensView(s):
Since the conclusion of the war, vast reserves of sporting talent, both in the North and East of the country, have been uncovered at a rapid rate, as areas that were previously inaccessible are now tentatively embracing sport and its associated culture. In a move to intensify this progress, the Ministry of Sports together with the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, launched a unique initiative which looked to sieve rehabilitated LTTE cadres into our national pool.
Chairman of the Sugathadasa Sports Complex, Brigadier Priyantha Samaratunga. – Pic by Amila Prabodha
Through the special selection programme, 177 former cadres were funneled into the national ranks of sports such as shooting, volleyball, football, badminton, swimming, athletics, weightlifting, karate, Kabbadi, cricket, chess and carrom.
“All the representatives from the national sports bodies were there. They also had all the proper facilities. For shooting they were taken to Welisara, for cricket they were taken to Khettarama,” Chairman of the Sugathadasa National Sports Complex, Brigadier Priyantha Samaratunga said.
Those selected will now be provided with even more training with the hope that one day they will represent the country at international competitions. The programme saw the attendance of several eminent guests, most notably the Minister of Sports, Mahindananda Aluthgamage and the Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, Chandrasiri Gajadheera.
Brigadier Samaratunga said that he was pleasantly surprised at the prodigious talent all the sportsmen possessed, adding that they seemed gifted with an astounding level of natural athleticism. The chairman added that there would be even more opportunities for athletes from these regions to prove their mettle, as more strategies are being formulated to properly identify undiscovered potential.
“There are plans to set up provincial associations in the North and East so there will definitely be more sportsmen produced from these areas.”