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Yoga offers rugby players an escape route

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by a Special Sports Correspondent

Yoga is used in many sports as a therapy, but hardly do we hear of such a combination between yoga and rugby, especially in Sri Lanka.

It did happen recently when the head coach of Rugby Promotion Foundation Ajith Fernando thought it apt to hire the services of a yoga teacher and send his chargers through some yoga drills.

Fernando, an accomplished rugby coach and an ex-employee of Sri Lanka Rugby, has observed over the years that rugby players in the island do little to put their lives in order. Most of them are good players, but very few eat right and organise their lives properly.

To put these lives in order Fernando invited yoga teacher Yoga Siromani Kelum Sri to take the boys and girls at his rugby academy through some mind relaxing yoga activities.

“I realised that these rugby players are stressed out and they needed to relax because when you are stressed you tend to get injured. Rugby is a game where there is so much physical contact and falling, so it’s important for players to have relaxed muscles and a clear mind. Yoga helps condition both mind and body,” said Kelum who is armed with a Diploma in Yoga Therapy from the famous Shivananda Ashram in India.

Kelum is not a person who has spent a sedentary life and has limited himself to a light exercise form like yoga. He had his moments during his youth as a kick-boxer and has also done drama and accepted acting roles. Hence he can easily understand how demanding rugby can get and the importance for rugby players to try yoga.

So the boys and girls from Rugby Promotion foundation made a journey to his yoga studio named Sri Aoura Yoga Retreat and situated in Anuradhapura.

“Yoga helps reduce sports injuries and reduce pain in existing injuries. If you continue with yoga you can cure these injuries permanently,” said Kelum.

The participants at the session were taken through sessions where they were taught breathing techniques and stretching. They were also taught the three qualities (Gunas) of how yoga categorises all things in the word including food. According to Kelum all things including food are categorised into Tamasic (dull/heavy), Rajasic (energetic/strong) or the Satvic (pure) quality. “When you consume vegetables and milk which have Satvic qualities they digest fast compared to meats which will take a long time to digest and dull the mind and slow down activity till digestion is completed” explained Kelum.

He said that he was concerned that the present generation sportsmen and women consume much fast foods; sometimes taking them even as their main meals. Rugby coach Fernando chips into the conversation and says that his academy has programmes to feed participants with nutritious food after a training session. “It’s vital that a rugby player has a solid healthy meal within half an hour after his workout,” Fernando said.

Yoga dates back to more than 5000 years and was used widely in Northern India by Yogis and Rishis. Then India’s yoga teachers started to travel the world and conduct sessions; hence its promotion and gaining global popularity. Some of the international sports stars who have made yoga a part of their lifestyle are Shaquille O, Neal (Basketball), Ray Lewis (National Football League), Kevin Love (Basketball) and Evan Longoria (Baseball). They were all bowled over by yoga’s ability to relax, rejuvenate and train the mind to focus sharply at a task at hand.

The Rugby Promotion Foundation has regular sessions with Kelum. “Once when they were here I organised a drama session for them after the yoga training. I use yoga and drama in my relaxation programmes. Most of these rugby players were so taken up with the drama session that they wanted more of it. All this goes on to show that sports people are so stressed out and need a mode to release that stress. After the yoga session and stretching there were children who said we’ve had enough. But when I introduced them to drama those who wanted to call it a day in training went on for a few more hours,” said Kelum underscoring the therapeutic benefits and using relaxing techniques with sportsmen and women.

Kelum says that yoga offers a catalogue which is loaded with techniques that are helpful in maintaining the human body. But he says that with rugby players, who are children, the target is to make them release stress, be supple and be free of injuries.

Rugby coach Fernando used to take his chargers for regular beach training sessions and make them be with nature. “We had our sessions till recently where the players wore masks and followed health guidelines specified for combating COVID-19. But all that has stopped because of the third wave of the pandemic,” said Fernando.

But these rugby players now know of a way out of this stagnated position they are in life due to the pandemic. They only have to refer to the tutorials they were offered by yoga teacher Kelum. Yoga can offer a total body workout and keep you fit, strong and focused till the state authorities make the announcement that they’ve lifted travel restrictions and it’s safe to go and play rugby again.



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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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