Parents' mentality should change if they are to do well in athletics
HFC Wennappuwa's main concern
By Naushad Amit, Pix by Sanka Vidanagama

Wennappuwa is quite well known as a town with Italian influence. With such a backdrop schoolchildren from the area of Wennappuwa hardly get the due exposure as most parents are not available when they are needed. Holy Family Convent, Wennappuwa, is a girls’ school established in 1930 and run by the Rev. Sisters is affected by this drawback.

During the 1960s the heydays of the school Holy Family Convent (HFC) is said to have commanded the school's sports arena with keen participation in many disciplines. Decades later the school is struggling to the top and are determined to enjoy the glorious days of the past.

"Those days students had similar family and financial status. As students we did not have the luxury of spending lavishly as our parents did not have the privileges of the present day. Despite these setbacks the students in the past had the time to engage in extra and co-curricular activities. But today things are quite different," said Rev. Sis. Vijitha Kekultota, the principal of HFC.

The school which has a rich history and tradition of 81-years has maintained its values throughout the entire period. Situated on a land that spans almost four acres in the heart of Wennappuwa city, the school has two separate sections, as primary and senior which are run by respective administrators. The primary section has almost 1500 girls and is the feeder of the main senior section which has over 2500 students.

Only students of the senior school are engaged in sports and co-curricular activities and these activities are encouraged by the teachers. But sadly only a handful takes up the challenge.

"Most parents of the students are living abroad. So these girls are under the guardianship of their grandparents and aunties. In addition parents, even those who live here, are more interested in their children's studies. As a result these girls are encouraged to attend extra classes than other activities. This is one of the major setbacks we are facing," said the Vice Principal, Chat hurika Ruhunuhewa.

The school takes part in netball, basketball, badminton, athletics, scrabble, swimming and chess. Out of these sports basketball is the main attraction of the girls even though it was introduced three years ago. Scrabble, being an indoor, game is played by almost every student. Athletic and netball have failed to attract the students but according to the prefect-of-games, these sports have the greatest potential towards success.

"Unfortunately those who are talented are not keen are have other restrictions from their parents. At present athletics and netball are alive because of the few enthusiastic students who are eager to achieve something. If we could see a change in this, HFC can achieve a lot more in the sports field," explained Ruvina Perera, the POG.

However the school, experiences less trouble in generating funds to help its day-to-day activities and other projects. Despite the parents' negative stance and less focus on sports activities, they are keen to support the school their children attend to. But HFC is yet to transform itself into a sports friendly school as many setbacks drag them to the opposite direction whenever they attempt a step forward.

"Comparing the activities from those days the school has developed a lot and given plenty of chances to expose the sporting talents of these girls. But overall poor participation, sometimes hampered by the pressure of parents and guardians, is a drawback. Otherwise they have the potential to achieve the unexpected. Those days we went up to the national level but nowadays girls reach the international stage which is really overwhelming to see as a past pupil," elaborated a past pupil Rasika Fernando, who is also the teacher-in-charge of badminton.

With a fairly big ground HFC has the potential of producing future sports stars. However the negative mentality of parents has put them in low gear. The ground has the ability to hold a 400 metre track in addition to its capacity which can facilitate other sports as well. Sadly the ground has to be upgraded so it could contribute more towards the benefit of the HFC girls.

HFC is famous for its strict conduct of discipline which has been a crown jewel on all their achievements. The school has maintained its top position as best achievers at G. C. E. ordinary and advance level exams in the Puttalam district for several years. In addition on an average they have produced two or three athletes to the national level in different sports even after several set backs.

The school authorities have taken the perfect procedure, not to obstruct studies. The 300 odd athletes who engage in sports are given the freedom to practice before and after school hours under the watchful eyes of the teachers who are in-charge of sports. The talented athletes who come from poor families are taken care of adequately with contributions from parents and well wishers.

"The school is trying its best to support talented athletes by giving them all possible facilities, guidance and most importantly security, because they are girls. We are always concerned about the discipline which we have maintained at a very high level all these years. If we could change the ideology of the parents, then we can achieve more," Rev Sis. Kekultota added.

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