Devshan and Soraya lead Junior
Devshan de Mel of S. Thomas’ Mt. Lavinia and Soraya Wickramasekera of Bishop’s College will lead the Sri Lanka Junior Water Polo (Under 19 Boys and Girls) teams at the second Asian Junior Water Polo Championships, scheduled to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan from September 1 to 5.
The championship will be contested by five nations in the boys’ category comprising Kuwait, Japan, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka and the hosts Kazakhstan, while the girl’s category will comprise four nations namely Japan, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan. The Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union (SLASU), the national body for aquatic sports, having identified a growing interest in the sport among leading schools in recent years, has initiated a programme to form development pools annually and field an age group level team at a regional competition. This is in order to expose local talent thereby raising the competitive standard of the game. Both the boys and girls will gain immense experience when they rub shoulders with Japan and other leading nations.
This is the second such instance where junior teams have played at an international competition since last year, when the teams participated in the Asian Age Group Championships and gained a wealth of experience, with them challenging battle-hardened teams every game, and drawing a few matches in some instances.“We have been encouraged by the results of the last year with our teams. They played well considering that they barely had any experience with shot clocks which are not available here. Our immediate focus is for teams to gain experience against these teams and bring their experience into our local games. We are confident the standards will improve now that the Minister of Sports has approved funding for a shot clock system for SLASU,” said Nethru Nanayakkara, General Secretary of SLASU.
The Sri Lankan team will face yet another new experience of playing in cold-climate pools as the championships are being held for the first time in the northern hemisphere. “Participation varies at these Asian junior level competitions with most federations challenged with raising funding to field teams. However, we are happy that our players are facing top teams as this is also a qualifier for the World Junior Championships,” added Nanayakkara.
The two teams consist of athletes from leading Colombo schools and are being coached by Zafar Zainudeen (Women’s team) and P.S.A. Silva (Men’s team) while Hiran Ukwatte, SLASU Vice President, leads the contingent as Team Manager. Mrs. Ranjani De Fonseka accompanies the team as Lady Chaperone.
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