SL NETBALL ASIAN NO 1 AND WORLD RANKING NO 10
(Netball action from Malawi
There are two challenges for the Sri Lanka Netball team at the Asian Netball Championships in Singapore from September 1 to 9.
The first is to become Asia’s first after nine years. The other is to be first or second in Singapore and qualify for the World Netball Championships in Liverpool, England in 2019.
Sri Lanka last won an Asian Championship in 2009 in Malaysia. After that Sri Lanka emerged runnersup on three occasions in – 2012, 2014 and 2016.
This time there are four countries fighting it out to become champions or runners-up. They are: defending champions Malaysia, runners-up Sri Lanka, third placed Singapore and fourth placed Thailand.
Thilaka Jinadasa, National Coach, Sri Lanka Netball told Daily Mirror: “We have trained well for nearly eight months. We faced several obstacles but we trained well with superior team work. We also gained several international exposures. On August 29 we will take wing to Singapore. The final 12 players have been selected but we have not got Sports Ministry approval. This we hope to obtain in a day or two,” said Tilaka Jinadasa.
“This time we have a balanced team of seniors and youth. According to my reckoning we should have easy passages in the first round. The second round could be tough because we will be up against champions, third placed team and the runnersup,” said Thilaka.
The Sri Lanka squad undertook a tour to Malawi, who is ranked sixth in the world. Sri Lanka is ranked 26th according to World Rankings. Sri Lanka played six games in Malawi. The first game ended in a draw at 56-56 against Malawi. They lost the next game to Kukoma Diamonds at 38-53. After a close game they lost to Malawi Youth 64-67. They lost the fourth game to Blue Eagles at 55-66 and lost to Malawi Queens (the national team) by 51-71. The final game too was against Malawi Queens and lost that too by 48 goals to 75.
Continuing, Thilaka said that Sri Lanka had done well against sixth ranked Malawi taking into consideration the points scored against Malawi teams.
“If we can gain international match experience every three months, Sri Lanka can improve in world rankings. Australia, New Zealand, England and European countries are gaining experience and improving their world standards, due to this.
“After the 2016 World Championships Sri Lanka has not taken part in any international competition. It is difficult for Sri Lanka to climb further under such circumstances.
“I have a lot of faith in my Goal Shooter Tharjani Sivalingam. She is a world recognised player in the world. She did not get a chance to I took a big risk to be the coach of the Sri Lanka team. My contract with the Brunei National team as the National Coach is up to January 2019. Without thinking of the financial aspects, I undertook to coach the Sri Lanka team take part in the past four years. That is a very sad situation. Tharjani has come back into the team. Her goal attacking is 85 percent perfect and she is recovering the rest.”
Sri Lanka has no official sponsor. There was an official sponsor ten years ago because of this the Netball Administration is facing financial problems. The Sri Lanka squad did not even get a protein allowance from the Sports Ministry this time. Other sports, however, get this facility.
It is with great difficulty that Sri Lanka undertook the trip to Malawi. In Malawi the Sri Lanka community looked after the Sri Lanka team by providing food and lodging.
A former Sri Lanka National player Iresha Koralage and her husband Tharanga Malawanne looked after the Sri Lanka team.
“I took a big risk to be the coach of the Sri Lanka team. My contract with the Brunei National team as the National Coach is up to January 2019. Without thinking of the financial aspects, I undertook to coach the Sri Lanka team.
“I am satisfied with the Sri Lanka team. The discipline is top rate, excellent teamwork and I think I can go ahead with the team.
“If I can be with the team for another four years, I am certain to take the side to the top ten is World Rankings. But my contract ends in January 2019,” concluded Tilaka Jinadasa.
Thilaka Jinadasa, Sri Lanka’s National Netball Coach