School Cricket Uplift: Ministries, SLC should work together: Minister
By Anjana Kaluarachchi
Education, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said that the Education Ministry, Sports Ministry and Sri Lanka Cricket should work together to uplift the heart of Sri Lanka's cricket - school cricket.
The Minister made these remarks yesterday at the Sports Ministry Auditorium when SLC distributed a lump sum of Rs 20,000 each for 132 school coaches to help them out financially during the current Covid19 situation.
"There are 642 schools playing cricket in Sri Lanka but only 28 have turf wickets. 450 of them don't even have a cricket ground, while only 150 have at least a side wicket. Our duty is to work together and come up with a programme to uplift school cricket without worrying about the past."
"Sri Lanka Cricket today initiated a programme to distribute a financial grant to 225 School Cricket Coaches who were financially burdened due to the Covid-19. Accordingly, during a ceremony held last afternoon (2 June) at the Ministry of Sports under patronage of the Minister of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports Dullas Alahapperuma, 132 coaches received a financial grant of Rs 20,000 per person, which is a onetime payment. The rest of the coaches will be given the grant in due course. This grant assistance was initiated by the SLC, following a request made by the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association," SLC said in a statement.
SLC also distributed turf Machine Rollers, Lawn Mowers and Hand Tractors for the development of School Cricket. Accordingly, 24 schools received Machine Rollers while 16 received Lawn Mowers and Hand Tractors.
The Minister and SLC President Shammi Silva listened to 15 school coaches who voiced their concerns regarding the present standard of School Cricket. They shared their views about lack of infrastructure facilities, coaches' payments, women's cricket and lack of sponsors.
Earlier during a meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa regarding the proposed Homagama International Cricket stadium project, former skipper Mahela Jayawardena said that though school cricket is the heart of Sri Lanka cricket, it has been ignored for the past 15 years. Jayawardene further highlighted the sad state and lack of facilities in most schools in Sri Lanka and said that rather than a billion dollar investment for a new international stadium, SLC should help develop school cricket which keeps producing cricketers for the national team.
Following the meeting the PMs Media Unit said that the project will be suspended, but SLC President Shammi Silva said that the Sports Minister was requested to hand over the land to SLC by the PM and SLC were instructed to build a normal cricket ground at the premises for now.
Meanwhile, Minister Bandula Gunawardana who visited the site along with SLC President Shammi Silva, said that he had not given up hope about the said project and he will build the said stadium without utilising funds from SLC or the Sri Lanka Government.
Work on Sports University to start in October
Meanwhile, Sports Ministry Secretary K.D.S. Ruwan Chandra said that they are waiting for the feasibility report of the National Sports University project and hope to start work around October.