not row them through?
Rowing is a sport that has for many years been overlooked
at the national and international level in Sri Lanka. With fewer
participants, lesser funding, and inadequate media coverage, national
rowing in Sri Lanka has not received much of the attention it so
the Sri Lanka rowing contingent made big impressions at the 9th
South Asian Federation Games earlier this year, their five silvers
and two bronze medals are yet to be awarded. Their medal tally,
which spanned both the lightweight and the open category, is outstanding
for such a young team with comparatively little funding.
fact that this was the first time the discipline was included in
the SAF Games makes the rowers' feat even more profound. Since their
return from Pakistan in March however, neither the team, nor the
Sri Lanka rowing community in general has received any sort of support
from local authorities. In a country where so much funding is put
towards sports which have not yielded even half the share of medals
that rowing has, it remains to be seen whether the government will
ever realize the need to fund based on performance and not on reputation.
Sunday Times spoke to Mr. Deva Henry, President of the Amatuer Rowing
Assocation of Sri Lanka, about the response so far from the government.
"In the past, the Sports Ministry has been very helpful by
providing us with some basic training equipment, along with funding
for the recent SAF trip," said Mr. Henry.
the 10th SAF Games being held in Sri Lanka from the fifteenth to
the twenty-fifth of August next year however, the need for a watercourse
of international standard is essential. Although a suitable two
thousand metre course has been identified on the Bolgoda Lake, funding
is required for the construction of a pier, the laying of lanes
and other related issues. "The University of Moratuwa is helping
us with the logistics like the creation of stake boat starts and
the laying of course buoys," said Mr. Henry.
event like the SAF Games also requires athletes to commence training
at least ten to twelve months in advance. Thus, if Sri Lanka is
looking to make impressions in the rowing arena at the next SAF
Games, the national contingent, in theory, should have access to
the required equipment by December the latest.
will be submitting a budget proposal to the Ministry next month
via the National Olympic Committee," said the President. "International
fours events are raced in coxless fours, and Sri Lanka still does
not have a single such boat," said Mr Henry. "We are thus
appealing to the Ministry to provide the national governing body
with at least four such boats to ensure the continuous training
of the team," said the President.
Lanka's lack of enthusiasm to the sport however stands in stark
contrast to our neighbours' attitude to the discipline. Both the
India and Pakistan national teams train throughout the year. Their
respective governments provide them with the necessary infrastructure,
funding and coaching to ensure that they perform at regional level.
Sri Lankan team, despite being short on funding and equipment made
the country proud at the last SAF Games by beating both countries
in various events. If given the relevant support, the team may well
be ready to take Sri Lankan rowing to new heights next year. Countries
like Bangladesh and Afghanistan will also take part in next year's
SAF rowing events.
do not want cash prizes or rewards like those received by athletes
from so many other sports," said one veteran rower. "We
just want the proper equipment to train with and win," he said.
Sunday Times also spoke to a few authoritative sources within the
rowing community about the future of Sri Lanka rowing. "The
ARASL should be looking at creating a permanent base for its activities,"
said the source. "The national body at present borrows its
boats from its various affiliated institutions - a situation that
should be reversed in the ideal setting," explained the source.
The government should thus be looking at equipping the ARASL with
enough funding to purchase their own boats and lake premises.
in general is also one of the least commercially funded sports.
While the corporate sector allocates large amounts of funding for
far less successful sports, the rowing community finds it hard to
run many events due to lack of funding. "In order for the success
of national rowing to continue, some corporate sector funding is
also very important," said the source.
is also important that new sources be tapped when looking for potential
athletes," said the veteran rower. "Qualified people need
to go out and spot raw talent for development," explained the
source. "All in all, Sri Lanka needs to adopt a set of training
schemes that are suitable to the country's social and economic background,"
said the rower.
adoption of such techniques, along with increased government and
private sector funding could clearly advance the standard of rowing
in the country.
national team's performance at the last SAF Games clearly shows
that Sri Lanka is ready to take on the region. With a little help
from the country, they may soon be ready to take on the whole of