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New face to head Hockey – SSP Kamal Pushpakumara

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Some may say that it is wishful thinking to make Sri Lanka the best hockey playing nation in the Asian region above India, Pakistan, South Korea and Malaysia but that is going to be the vision of Kamal Pushpakumara, who will be contesting for the post of President at the upcoming hockey elections that will be held via video conference on the 31st of May.

A Senior Superintendent of Police, Pushpakumara has a few tricks up his sleeve in order to make Sri Lanka a force to be reckoned with in the region in hockey.

A former First Class cricketer, SSP Pushpakumara also represented Police in Hockey and made several overseas tours. Sri Lanka won the Police Cricket World Cup in Worcestershire in England under his captaincy.

One of his main plans to improve the game in the country is to increase the number of kids playing the game by reaching out to new schools to join the game and sustaining them in the sport without giving up halfway through.

Improving the infrastructure at grassroots levels, making the role of umpires and technical support professional are other areas that have been looked at in a bid to create interest and make  improvements in the game.  Virtually, this can be termed as the short term goal.

There will be an Elite Pool established comprising 100 children from the age group of 16 to 19 to undergo a long term training program targeting future international events.  

The main fan base of Hockey is at Matale, Kandy, Colombo, Wennapuwa, Kalutara, Jaffna, Matara, Gampaha, Badulla and Galle. One of the main areas that have been looked at is to promote the game in the areas where the game is existing and to take the game to districts which doesn’t play hockey.

Developing the game all around the island will not only help identify players with exceptional skill levels but it also increases awareness on healthy life styles. The player development will be focused on two areas – schools and districts.

The development efforts will be done by qualified coaches with the help from International Hockey Federation and Asian Hockey Federation.

Since all major international events are played on synthetic pitches, the need arises to have more synthetic pitches in the country and at least one turf will be provided to Kandy, Wennappuwa, Jaffna and Badulla. In addition one district in the Southern Province – either Matara or Galle too will receive one. The existing synthetic turf in Colombo is worn out and it will be replaced.

There are ambitious moves to rope in a sponsor who is able to look into the burning issues of the sport.

Although the Ceylon Hockey Federation was started in the year 1933, after 88 years, the Hockey Federation doesn’t have a premises of their own to conduct their daily affairs. One of the priorities of SSP Pushpakumara is to have a permanent office for Hockey and to put up a dormitory for players who come to Colombo from outstations for training. There’s been good support from Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa on this regard.

While the talent in the sport is not lacking, lack of exposure for players at the international arena has resulted in players being not able to compete against the best in the world. Providing the players international exposure is a must and helping them improve their technical and tactical game needs to be looked after along with providing them nutrition.

“It is my firm belief that after cricket, hockey can go onto make the nation’s most successful sport. Hockey is not a contact sport. Like cricket is a sport involving bat and ball, hockey is a sport that involves stick and ball. So the skill levels are almost the same,” SSP Pushpakumara elaborated.

He also intends to establish an IPL like domestic franchise based tournament with the participation of foreign players and he believes that this will create lot of interest on the game. The help of Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa in this regard is highly valued.

Sri Lanka were ranked number  four in  Asia in the 1960s but currently the team has suffered huge setbacks to be ranked 11th. More recently, the sport has run into problems and a fresh face is needed to address the burning issues of the game. SSP Pushpakumara with a visionary attitude and a desire to work hard is the ideal person to do the job.



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Foreign News

Australia T20 captain retires from international cricket

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Aaron Finch hit 63 in his final international innings against Ireland at the 2022 Men's T20 World Cup (pic BBC)

BBC reported that former Australia white-ball captain Aaron Finch has announced his retirement from international cricket.

Opening batter Finch, 36, was Australia’s T20 captain, having retired from one-day internationals in September..

He represented Australia in five Tests, 146 one-day internationals and 103 T20s, leading them to their first T20 World Cup title in 2021.

Finch said it had been “incredible honour” to play for Australia.

He is set to continue playing in domestic T20 competitions, including in the Big Bash League (BBL) for Melbourne Renegades.

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Fun Run announcing Asian Games at Port City today

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The Fun Run announcing the Asian Games will be held at Port City today. The event was announced at a function held in Colombo on Monday.

The official Fun Run announcing the 19th Asian Games will be held under the patronage of the Olympic Council of Asia Director General -Dr. Husain Al-Musallam and a host of dignitaries at the Colombo International Financial City (Port City) today.

The quadrennial Asian Games which was originally scheduled for September 2022 was postponed in May due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in and around the host city of Hangzhou in China. The Game will now be held in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8, 2023 under the motto of “Heart to Heart, @Future.”

The ‘Fun Run’ which acts like a baton relay of sorts was announced at a function held in Colombo yesterday.

The Fun Run will be held at the presence of Wu Jianzhong -Deputy Director of Games Services Department, Ge Jianyang -Staff of Press and Public Relations Department, Bao Hanyuan -Staff of Games Services Department and delegates from the Olympic Council of Asia. The National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka will be represented by its President Suresh Subramaniam, Secretary General NOC Sri Lanka Maxwell de Silva along with the executive committee of the NOC Sri Lanka.

To liven up this colourful pageant there will be a surfeit of sports and cultural activities involving over 700 persons. The highlight of the day’s activity will be a Jet Ski show presented by Sri Lanka Navy and a traditional Martial Art -Angampora Demonstration recited by the Army sports division. The President of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka Suresh Subramaniam aired the importance of the Fun Run. He said “the presence of the Olympic Council of Asia Director General -Dr. Husain Al-Musallam who is the main cog behind Asian Games 2022, signifies how serious they are about the success of the event. Besides that, there is a host of other Games Officials who will await eagerly to see the successful completion of this event and report back as to what Sri Lanka is capable of delivering. For us this is a momentous opportunity and we are taking it with both hands”.

Commenting on the significance of the event, NOC Sri Lanka Secretary General Maxwell de Silva said “akin to the Olympic Day Run or the Commonwealth Games Baton relay or the Asian Games Fun Run is very significant. In reality the “Fun Run” is the flag-off of the event and the Lankan leg of the baton that will take place at the Port City, Colombo.” The Olympic Council of Asia is stepping up its “Asian Games for All” promotional campaign right now.

A major part of this campaign is the Asian Games Fun Run, which is held throughout the continent and brings together elite athletes, social runners, students/children and sports officials. The OCA is working closely with the National Olympic Committees in all five zones to create a Fun Run calendar in order to promote the upcoming Asian Games and involve all levels of the community in a family-oriented activity. To this end, the OCA has released a schedule for February and March taking in two of the five zones: South Asia and South East Asia. The programme is still being assembled for the three remaining zones -West Asia, Central Asia and East Asia -in conjunction with the NOCs and will be released shortly.

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Amameth century propels Mahanama

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Under 19 Cricket

by Reemus Fernando

A century by Kavindu Amameth was the highlight of the day as Mahanama posted 363 runs against De Mazenod on day one of the traditional cricket encounter at Kandana on Monday.

Amameth top scored with 126 runs (in 173 balls, 9x4s, 4x6s) and put on a third wicket stand of 206 runs with Inuka Karannagoda as Mahanama dominated proceedings on day one.

In the Under 19 Division I Tier ‘B’ match at Uyanwatta, St. Servatius’ cemented their top position in Group ‘Z’ by scoring a first innings points against Devapathiraja.

Results

St. Servatius’ earn first innings points against Devapathiraja at Uyanwatta

Scores:

Devapathiraja

113 all out in 35.3 overs (Gimhan Rasanjana 24, Pawan Sandesh 24, Tharush Damindu 3/18, Kushan Wijerama 4/25, Chathum Bimsara 2/32) and 151 for 8 decl. in 36.2 overs (Darshaka Sandeep 46, Jeewaka Shashin 31; Chathum Bimsara 2/21, Kushan Wijerama 3/34, Thisan Dewmith 2/40)

St. Servatius’

92 for 6 overnight 123 all out in 48.3 overs (Mithila Charles 39, Vishwa Supun 23, Diniru Abeywickramasinghe 25; Irushka Thimira 6/47, Puljith Wathsuka 2/34) and 110 for 4 in 26.2 overs (Mithila Charles 27, Diniru Abeywickramasinghe 36, Chiran Neththaru 23n.o.; Puljith Wathsuka 2/38)

Mahanama dominate day one proceedings at Kandana

Scores:

Mahanama

363 all out in 92.1 overs (Kavindu Amameth 126, Inuka Karannagoda 75, Rashmika Perera 52, Chamika Heenatigala 24, Eshan Withanage 24; Kavindu Kaushalya 4/97, Thushan Udayanga 3/64, Sithum Fernando 3/71)

De Mazenod

2 for 1 in 5 overs

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