From sporting beauty to women’s liberator | Sunday Observer

From sporting beauty to women’s liberator

Caryll Tozer
Caryll Tozer

It could be an understatement to describe Caryll Tozer as a multifaceted woman as she is more than a former beauty queen and women’s rights champion as well as a national sportswoman and sports promoter.

Although Tozer has led a life that is full, she still has many more chores to be completed and the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Sri Lanka has nominated her to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) 2019 Women and Sport Awards list.

In all there were six applicants and three were shortlisted. The women’s committee arrived at the final decision along with the input of NOC Secretary General Maxwell de Silva and is now awaiting the outcome.

A fitness fanatic and mother, Tozer also plays basketball, netball and tennis with players 20 years her junior and has pioneered the cause of helping the under privileged.

Initially on her 18th birthday, the Olympic Movement opened a window of opportunity to her through the Olympic Youth Assemblage ’72 at the Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan. Taking that as a key, Tozer has given back to the Sri Lankan community opportunities to help the needy.

In 1986 she was crowned Mrs. Sri Lanka a title she used to found ‘Women In Need’ along with a Canadian VSO.

Her work with a group called ‘Citizens for a Secure Sri Lanka’ addressed the issues of violence against children. Working through the carnage post war period where the north of Sri Lanka was devastated, her contribution in its rehabilitation with another group ‘Citizens Initiative’ was highly noteworthy. She has continued, on her own, to build wells and houses for the needy starting in the north.

An active sportswoman in her younger days, Tozer moved to sports administration as a matter of duty and served as a member of the National Sports Council in 2015 while playing a prominent role in the development of netball. She is the current vice president of the Western Province Netball Association.

Tozer went further and also initiated a unique programme by introducing a system to address gender equality by encouraging local lads to build a netball court for girls on the promise of giving them a volleyball court, starting with a village south of Colombo.

She continues to push for netball courts in various under-developed areas where only male dominant volleyball is the more established game.

Tozer’s stand taken for gender equality, especially the action that she has taken to elevate and protect the quality of life of young females at village level goes to prove that she is indeed more than multi-faceted and multi-talented.