By Ranil Prematilake in Hong Kong
It is the passion and determination that keeps these lasses going. The Ministry of Sports provided them with lodging, food and a stipend of a sum of Rs. 30,000 per month to prepare for the Asian Games 2018. However, a brutal turn of events occasioned purely by an administrative lapse closed the door of opportunity for the Sri Lankan Women’s Rugby Squad to showcase their talent. The Asian Games 2018 for women’s rugby was a non-starter due to the failure to submit the application in a timely manner, a pre-requisite for an event of such magnitude.
Another shock followed. The stipend of Rs. 30,000 was discontinued albeit the lodging and food facility is to continue. It is in this background that the Sri Lankan women’s rugby team landed here in Hong Kong to feature in the first leg of the Asian Sevens Series 2018. Nevertheless, preparation wise there can be no qualms as the squad is ready to meet the challenge having undergone training under the watchful eyes of Sudath Sampath. From the humble beginnings of being ranked ninth in the Asian circuit, the women’s standing shot up to the fifth slot in no time, providing a sense of hope. What followed was an ambitious effort through State intervention (the Ministry of Sports) to reach the high end of the Asian circuit.
This is the very reason why, any benefits/monetary remuneration should have been continued beyond the initial decided upon time frame. With no disrespect to any individual, the prudent step would have been to scrutinise the impact of the investment and the progress made thereof from a professional perspective prior to taking such decision. Moreover, it is no secret that a strong majority of the lasses in the national squad, are not from the metropolis and hail from rural environments in the country.
The DailyMirror reliably learns that Sri Lanka’s acclaimed head coach Peter Woods in a memo to the sport’s governing body, Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) had strongly recommended that emphasis be placed on women’s rugby, going to the extent of identifying women’s rugby as the future of Sri Lankan rugby in the international circuit.