Air Force woman scrums down for all women | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Air Force woman scrums down for all women

Thilangani Warakagoda
Thilangani Warakagoda

Bridging the gender gap in a country that produced the world’s first women Prime Minister, Sri Lanka lags behind in empowering women and gender equality in sports when considering its administration in the island.

Out of 62 sports bodies in the country, only Sri Lanka Rugby (formerly Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union) has given an exalted place to a woman in their policy-making high profile Council and currently that honour goes to Thilangani Warakagoda, a member of the Executive Committee.

“I was involved in sports since my school days and as a Air Force wing commander I served Sri Lanka Rugby as a team manager since 2011 and also worked for the welfare of women’s rugby” said Warakagoda in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

She further said: “I am happy that Sri Lanka Rugby has allocated space for women and I don’t know why other sports bodies don’t have such openings for women in their executive councils.”

She complimented what is being called the Forces teams involved in nearly all sports in the country and representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police.

“If not for the Forces there will be less women in sports”, declared Warakagoda. “We need more girls to be involved in sports like rugby, football and other field games. By being in the rugby Council I am able to talk about the problems women face in rugby which is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and to have them get their due place. I wish if other sports bodies can take serious note of this”.

Warakagoda said that Sri Lanka needs to wake up soon and come to grips with what is happening on the international scene where even a closed-door or religious extremist country like Saudi Arabia had appointed a woman as its first-ever female head of sports in Princess Reema bin Sultan who is now the kingdom’s president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports.

“These are the good signs for women in sports. When you compare the kind of facilities and privileges men have in sports, women play second fiddle most of the time and this must change and change fast”, said Warakagoda. One of the sports entities in Sri Lanka, the National Olympic Committee which governs Olympic sports is one organisation in the island that is guilty of shutting the door on women and its officials cannot hide the fact that they are now in an embarrassing situation.

“Nearly 65 per cent of our athletes are women and as far as I know only rugby has a seat for a woman on their Executive Committee. Our NOC doesn’t have an allocation for women”, said one NOC official who did not wish to be named for obvious reasons fearing he’ll be pulled up in a politically charged environment that has eaten into sports.

The International Olympic Committee has a 30 per cent ratio allocation for women on their executive committee.