SL NET­BALL ASIAN NO 1 AND WORLD RANK­ING NO 10

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - SPORTS - BY SUSIL PREMALAL

(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

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