The Volleyball Federation officials who were elected to office recently led by Dilan Perera, Deputy Minister of Ports and Aviation is to develop the sports to international level and also bring national unity through the national sport.
This was disclosed at the National Volleyball Convention conducted last Saturday and Sunday at the Foundation Institute.
Professor Vinnie Vitharana who made the keynote address said: `though volleyball was declared as the national sport in Sri Lanka way back in 1991, it has not reached the required standards during the past few years, and also became a forgotten game in Sri Lanka. This he said is something that everyone should be shameful.
Prof. Vitharana who spoke of the past volleyball in Sri Lanka said that there was no one who thought of a national sport in our country. Former Minister of Youth Affairs and Sport Nanda Mathew appointed a committee to look into the possibilities of making volleyball the national sport. I was appointed the chief of this committee as I was a person who always went back to the history before coming to conclusions. He said volleyball in not a new sport for Lankans.
This was a game played by Lankans during festive seasons among young girls of rural areas. Here the game was different it was not played by an unlimited member of girls minus a net. Their game of this nature was known as `La Nil Keliya`. The main target was not to drop the fall by players. History proved that this was similar to volleyball, and as history proved that this game deserves national status, my committee recommended the game to be the national sport, he said.
But it is sad to say though this was done by the Minister concerned the game has not received its due place in the sporting circles. It caught up with the rural areas in quick time, but no action was taken by authorities to uplift the standards of the sport.
Adding further he said volleyball was even played in schools like S. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia. He recalled how he made use of the volleyball courts at S. Thomas for recreation along with the minor staff of the school during his teaching career at the school.
Professor said that this act of his was also a matter that caught the eyes of the then warden and sub warden when some of his colleagues complain against him for joining hands with minor employees which should not be the case for senior staffer in the school.
He joking said that there was instance the sub warden Davidson watching him play with employees and questioned as to why he was doing this. He said his answer was that employees work was over by 6.00 p.m.
Which time the light was very clear, but there was no way of passing the time and decided to keep them engaged in sports. With this answer the warden could not find fault with me he said, and the matter ended at that point he said.
Prof. Vitharana said in the past volleyball was played with nine players to a side in Sri Lanka. Keeping up to international levels the number has reduced to six. This has also cut down the interest of the players. Volleyball`s earlier practice was to keep the ball moving from side to side without dropping the ball.
This style of play interested the spectators and also the game went on for longer periods giving all the enthusiasm to all concerned.
`We in Sri Lanka must have both versions of the game (nine a side and six a side) to prove to the world that this is not a game that the Lankans picked the same from outside. This will also attract more player and spectator interest` he said.
Professor Vitharana specifically noted that Committees are appointed and reports submitted to governments, and proposals implemented but after sometimes these go to cupboards. This should not be the case, proposals have to be improved day by day and the sport developed if this is not done what is the purpose it serves questioned Prof. Vitharana.
`I am thankful to the present set of officials for taking steps to revive the game, by conducting a convention with the participation of all volleyball lovers and officials past and present`. I wish all success for the national sport volleyball. I also request the authorities not to allow the proposals to die a natural death once again.
Dilan Perera the newly elected president vowed to implement all proposals that could help develop the sport without any hesitation. With this intention he requested all past officials join hands for getting the differences to uplift the sport in this country.
Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Jeevan Kumaranatunga who was the chief guest said that all assistance will be provided through his Ministry for the purpose of promoting volleyball in Sri Lanka. He said with energetic Dilan Perera at the helm of the SLVBF volleyball is sure to see a new chapter for the sport.
Deputy Minister of Sports Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, Director General Sports Milton Amerasinghe and all past Presidents, Secretaries District officials and many others including the media attended the convention.