For the last few months in Sri Lanka, protests have been a routine on the streets of Colombo. People are standing in huge queue to fill their LPG cylinders. There’s been hardly any petroleum in the island country. Ministers are fleeing away leaving “their” country amidst the chaos. Citizens resting here and there in the street. In such a condition, representing in the Commonwealth Games is something beyond the dream. But, Sri Lanka Cricket Board made that “dream” possible.
When everything was uncertain, when there was a rigid “no” from the Country’s ministry, it was the Sri Lanka Cricket Board that came into rescue. The Indian Express quoted Sri Lanka’s chef de mission Dampath Fernando,
“The Treasury said they don’t have money. Forget about it.”
Sri Lanka Cricket Board Donated 22 million Sri Lankan Rupees
Amidst all the chaos, the cricket board showed enough guts to invite Other countries to visit and play there. Soon after the IPL, it was Australia playing there. And now, its time for SL to face Pakistan. However Pakistan won the first test; but it wont be surprising to see SL coming back!
In the post Covid period, Sri Lanka Cricket Board wasn’t allowing any spectators to enter the stadium until it was against Australia. The series generated revenue of which the board donated a lump of approximately $2 million, to public wellfare initiatives.
However, it won’t be wrong to consider SLC as the silent rescuer of the athletes considering the 22 million Sri Lankan rupees they gave. Fernando himself considered it as a “fairly big amount”, and indeed it is. He added,
“Ours is a small country, we (administrators) know each other very well. In a crisis situation like the one at present, we need to appreciate that the cricket board volunteered to help the Olympic association. That’s very unique.”
The government brought air tickets to Birmingham for some athletes and officials with that money. Even, a part of it will be used to organise competition attires. Not only that, SLC vowed to provide support to Abekoon, even for the next two years. Abekoon was the first South Asian to run 100m with 10 seconds.
However, SLC will be funding for Sri Lanka Women Cricket separately.
“Sport brings so many good things.”
The 2022 Commonwealth Games will start from 28th July and will continue till 8th August. The 22nd edition of CWG is all set to ring the bell at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium with a total of 5054 athletes from different country. Sri Lanka will be sending their largest continent this year at Birmingham. There are 114 athletes, of which 60 are men, and 54 are men. Its 34 heads more than what they send in 2018. Fernando informed,
“We are going with bare minimum… making it as simple as possible. We are issuing only three t-shirts, one tracksuit and one bag to each athlete. Other than that, nothing — no new shoes, no new shirts… we can’t afford that. But we will make sure athletes are comfortable”
The athletes won’t be wearing any traditional attire made by designers during the opening and closing ceremony. They will come out of the tunnel of Alexander Stadium wearing basic tracksuits. When media question about the “necessity” of participation in Commonwealth, Fernando said. “As a matter of principle sport brings so many good things, so much happiness.“
The athletes have through many problems. There’s huge scarcity of petroleum in the island country. The boxers fell short of adequate nutrition as a result of transport problem.Back in 2018, at the Gold Coast, SL won 4 medals. Fernando hopes more this season. Adding to that, he said. “We want to stand like other nations, in front of our flag, as a proud nation, keeping our backs straight, our heads strong and we want to do our best.”
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