Sports educationist rues Sri Lankan athletes deprived of opportunities | Sunday Observer

Sports educationist rues Sri Lankan athletes deprived of opportunities

3 February, 2019
  Anoma Ratnayake
Anoma Ratnayake

A sports promoter and lecturer at the Kelaniya University, Anoma Ratnayake, contends that athletes are being subjected to a raw deal when it came to their studies and should not be in a situation where they have to choose between sports and education and instead take both along without a conflict.

“Nowadays athletes are faced with a problem on how to take both sports and studies along at the same time. Even (hurdler) Siriyani Kulawansa could not do her higher studies. They worry about their academic future as well and this is understandable,” said Ratnayake.

“There are opportunities and scholarships available which they are not aware of and realize their mistake only at retirement when they have very little to fall back on”.

Ratnayake works as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Kelaniya in the Department of Sport Science and Physical Education, Faculty of Social Science.

In addition, she also works for the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka as a Provisional National Course Director and an Assistant Secretary of the Women’s Committee with a Double Masters Degree in Mass Communication and Sports Management.

“Athletes often fail to balance both academics and sports altogether, which is the reason why most parents do not allow their children to get involved in sports,” Ratnayake rued.

“Young athletes believe that sports will not lead them to a future whereas there is a plethora of opportunities through sports.

“Pupils often tend to find certain excuses to drop out of sports such as the lack of sport facilities in the country. Certain pressure is also brought on by coaches pressurizing athletes to mainly focus on winning medals whereas coaches are required to introduce sports education to athletes to learn more about certain opportunities and develop themselves personally,”explained Ratnayake.

She said another discouraging factor is that athletes also don’t feel secure about a future and thus prefer to focus on studies despite Sri Lanka having introduced sport management degrees and courses in universities and sport management diplomas and certificates.

“To sustain sports, a proper education is required in every person involved in the field of sports. Athletes are not just required to maintain their body. They must have the will and mind. According to the philosophy of sports, athletes are required to balance the body, will and mind,” said Ratnayake.

Current athletes Mihiliya Methsarani and Dharshana Rajapakse are studying in the USA and China while Roshan Dhammika, Yamini Dulajali, Sirimali Samarakoon, Isuru Upeka and Bevishan Wijeyawickrama are doing their studies in Sri Lanka hoping to do their final year in the USA.

They participated in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa and the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia last year.

Ratnayake said that it was the duty of the government and sports administrators to look into the problems faced by athletes including their education and guide them towards such opportunities that will benefit sport as well as the athlete as an individual.

“Sport awareness programs must be held to fill in the sport-education gap and sport education should be valued. If such issues can be solved within the country, we can create a better sporting environment and this is possible at national level,” said Ratnayake.

She was the first Sri Lankan woman to bring the Master of Sports Management degree back to her home country in 2015.

In total, there were 127 applicants from 27 countries and she was the first Asian woman who qualified and received a fully funded scholarship to get her Master of Sports Management degree at the Seoul National University.