All-hands coalition required to produce world-class athletes: NOCSL SG
The path of an athlete heading towards the international centre stage is riddled with strenuous training and capacity building. The commitment, dedication and ‘never-give-up’ attitude are key characteristics that would give way to achieving their dreams. Most budding young athletes from rural regions in Sri Lanka lack the support they need financially, physically and mentally to show their true potential.
However, the ‘Next Champ’ programme initiated by Crysbro in tandem with the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) has demonstrated the importance of private sector contributions, as it has uplifted over 150 talented youth athletes to help them reach the international sports arena.
The programme aims to provide financial assistance to more competitive youth from underprivileged regions, who have the potential to enter flagship events such as the Youth Olympic Games 2022, Asian Games 2022, Commonwealth Games 2022, and 2023 South Asian Games.
The initiative has also successfully produced a collection of athletes who secured gold and silver medals at the 2019 South Asian Games in Nepal. But the support isn’t just the athlete’s capabilities and potential, especially in Sri Lanka, as the collective coalition of the National Olympic Committee, Ministry of Sports, Department of Sport Development and the private sector to support and provide exposure to the athlete is critical in local as well as international events, according to NOCSL Secretary General Maxwell de Silva. “There must be a step-by-step process in place to ascertain how we are going to progress, and first and foremost is the proper identification of talented athletes, which is very important,” de Silva said.
“For potential athletes, we want to find out whether they are fully committed and also whether their parents are committed - because it is a very tough choice.” Applications are called for from the National Federation, which are then shortlisted and monitored by a team from the NOC for progress. This step is also challenging as young athletes may drop out or get injured, so the committee has to be cautious throughout the process.
To support the potential young athletes, private entities would generally sign up as sponsors and join the athlete and the NOC through the journey of training, execution and achievement. At this stage, most athletes would be highlighted and exposed through these private entities, and their financial, training and nutritional requirements would also be supported by them.
While thanking Sri Lankan poultry producer Crysbro for their prompt initiative, de Silva noted that, “I am very thankful to the Crysbro team for coming forward at a time when no one else came to support the athletes, and through the Crysbro Next Champ programme, we found over 20 very talented athletes who are being supported in every aspect.”