Sports lost and is losing remaining grounds? | Sunday Observer

Sports lost and is losing remaining grounds?

Where is sports in Sri Lanka heading? At the rate the playgrounds are being taken over to put up buildings for commercial purposes very soon athletes will not find a ground to practice and hone their skills in their respective sports.

This is a good eye opener for the new, young and energetic Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Namal Rajapaksa to take immediate steps to stop these gluttons from taking over playgrounds. Besides, the Minister is very eager to build a healthy nation especially with the younger generation being actively involved in sports. But how can these youngsters be active without grounds?

As far as my memory tells me there were many vast grounds in Colombo and the suburbs taken over and hotels built on them. Echelons Square was a vast ground that was used by the Army and Air Force personnel to carry out their sports activities like football. The Army ground near Galle Face was used by the Army first to play cricket and later rugby. The Army cricket ground was also taken over to build a hotel and shopping mall.

A cricket ground at Rajagiriya was sold to a private bank which put up a massive building.

The Government Services ground at Slave Island where the football loving public living in the vicinity relished the sport was also taken over and a hotel build.

In the latest move the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) is eying a take-over of the land at Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha where the Sri Lanka Tennis Association is housed. Tennis is an elite sport and Sri Lanka has produced many versatile tennis players of high calibre. Many children of even politicians go there to learn the game. Some of these children have represented the country and later turned out to be good coaches. They find employment through coaching too.

The tennis association has gone ahead further by training differently able soldiers and introduced wheelchair tennis. All this training is being done free of charge to keep the people with limited abilities active and look forward to something in life.

This five acre land was given out on a 99-year lease and it has taken a lot of work to build clay courts first and now some hard courts too. This tennis centre is graded as one of the best in Asia and can conduct many international tournaments that can bring in foreign players and currency into the country. Most tournaments are conducted with the help of sponsors who keep the game going at a very high level.

The sport that suffered most is football that was called the poor man’s game.

Sri Lanka has produced some of the best players of Asian standard two decades ago. Sadly today the game has suffered so much probably due to lack of grounds and Sri Lanka has failed to produce a quality player of Asian standard like in the past.

The ball is in your court now Minister of Sports. It is you who can stop these take-overs and build more grounds in almost every housing scheme, just like what Malaysia has done.

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