International sport back as Sri Lanka hosts Asian baseball | Sunday Observer

International sport back as Sri Lanka hosts Asian baseball

From left: Sameera Ratnayake (team captain), Priyantha Ekanayake (CEO Sri Lanka Baseball Association, Chulananda Perera (Secretary to the Ministry of Sports), Fazil Hussain (president SLBA) and Myantha Dissanayake (VP SLAB) Picture by Shan Rambukkwella
From left: Sameera Ratnayake (team captain), Priyantha Ekanayake (CEO Sri Lanka Baseball Association, Chulananda Perera (Secretary to the Ministry of Sports), Fazil Hussain (president SLBA) and Myantha Dissanayake (VP SLAB) Picture by Shan Rambukkwella

The Sri Lanka Baseball Association (SLBA) is set to host the first ever international championship, the West Asia Cup with the participation of five Asian ranked teams India, Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh and host Sri Lanka from July 15 to 20 at the Diyagama ground.

The championship is also the first international major sporting event to be held in Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday bombings that rocked the country last April.

Organisers said the championship will showcase to the world that the island was back to normalcy with international sport proving the point.

The championship was officially launched at a media briefing held in Colombo in the presence of the Baseball Association’s president Fazil Hussain, Secretary to the Ministry of Sports Chulananda Perera, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Kishu Gomes, Chief Executive Officer SLBA Priyantha Ekenayake and Vice President of the SLBA Myantha Dissanayake.

Addressing the media Hussain stated that Sri Lanka has the potential to promote baseball as the SLBA has set targets with the aim of taking it to all parts of the country including schools. He said already 12 schools are engaged in the sport which is picking up well among these schools. Adding further he said that at present 127 countries play baseball seriously and Sri Lanka is placed in the 41st position.

“When we put in a proposal to host the Asia Cup the world governing body was reluctant to give their approval stating that Sri Lanka does not have the facilities needed to hold an international championship. But we kept on persuading them by forwarding our plan to improve the needed infrastructure facilities within a short period which was accepted by them. We then had their approval for the Championship and as promised our association with the support extended by Japan was able to satisfy the governing body,” said Hussain.

Speaking on the chances of the team Hussain said: “We were the winners of the 2017 Asia Cup under the captaincy of Akalanka Ranasinghe who now serves as the manager of our team for the upcoming Asia Championship. Sameera Ratnayake will lead the Sri Lanka team this year to face the visiting teams with hope of winning the Asia Cup for a second time for our country.

“With baseball being a highly attractive sport in our country it can also be of great importance to promote tourism by taking steps to add it as sports tourism.”

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