Hopes to retire in two years | Sunday Observer
Former netball captain Chathurangi Jayasooriya

Hopes to retire in two years

12 June, 2022

Sri Lanka has confirmed its participation at the 12th Asian Netball Championships to be held in Singapore in September.

Sri Lanka won the title for the fifth time when the tournament was last held in 2018 in Singapore. The host nation became runners-up and Malaysia claimed the third place in that tournament. This time Sri Lanka will participate in the tournament to defend the title.

The ‘Youth Observer’ caught up with the former captain of the Sri Lanka netball team, Chathurangi Jaysooriya to discuss the tournament.

Q: The Asian Netball Championships will be held at the end of this year. You were the then captain of the winning Sri Lanka team. Could you tell me something about your experiences?

A: Well, it was a very memorable victory. We won the title in Singapore after defeating the host country. Singapore has a very talented team every time and they are difficult to beat on their home soil. However, we overcame the challenges and defeated them. It was a very proud moment in our lives.

Q: Are you ready to battle and win the Asian Netball Championship title again?

A: If I am selected as a member of the team I am ready to fight to defend our title. We are ready to fight against any opponent of any country. If we play as a team we can win the title again as I believe we have a talented team.

Q: Do you think the present team can defend the title?

A: Of course it can. Our players have enough skills to defend it. Not only this team but also previous sides which represented the country at the Asian Netball Championship were very strong. Sri Lanka has won this tournament in 1989, 1997, 2001, 2009 and 2018. We are the most powerful netball nation in Asia. This reputation has boosted our morale.

Q: But our opponents are not very weak. Singapore and Malaysia have strong teams. What do you think about them?

A: That’s true. Singapore won the Asian Netball Championship title in 2005, 2012 and 2014, Malaysia in 1985 and 2016 and Hong Kong in 1993. They have gradually developed their skills and techniques.

Q: In the recent past the Netball Federation made an attempt to find young talent around the country. What do you think of that attempt as a senior player?

A: The Federation is trying to develop the game around the country. Officials made several attempts to fulfill that task. Finding young blood to play netball is a worthwhile activity.

Q: Now let us move on to your personal life. Could you tell me something about your personal life?

A: I am attached to the Sri Lanka Air Force and my husband is a teacher. We have a little boy, Ihansa Abimani. We are a happy family.

Q: How about your school days?

A: Sports was my favourite subject when I was in school. I was an athlete who trained under Dileema Peterson. In 2009, Sri Lanka won Asian Netball Championship and that glorious victory encouraged us to play netball. Parallel to winning the Netball Championships, the Netball Federation began a talent search for young blood. They announced it via newspapers and my mother showed me the paper cutting. It stated that the Netball Federation was trying to find tall girls to be trained to play netball. Since I was a six-footer I met the Netball officials and was selected to the pool.

Q: How did you join the Air Force?

A: After Advanced Level examination I got the chance to join the Air Force. After joining the Air Force I trained very hard. My friends have given me the nickname ‘Unanduwa’ because of my efforts to to develop my skills.

Q: I heard that you balanced your studies, sports and job very well. How do you balance it?

A: After joining the Air Force I continued my higher studies. Then I completed my degree program. Following which I received a promotion while also continuing my sports activities. I am proud of my achievements. The Air Force gave me plenty of support and encouragement to reach my goals. I admire my work place.

Q: You are well known as an honest leader. How did you build up that reputation?

A: At every practise session I play to the best of my ability. I also follow that method in my work and personal life too. I follow good habits. Truth is the only victorious thing in this universe.

Q: Now that you are a mother, do you think that your playing days are over?

A: Do you think so? I am not sure. I am in good shape physically and mentally and I love to represent my country and this sport very much. I would like to know why you asked this question?

Q: Since you have a lot of responsibilities in your family isn’t it difficult to find time for practises unlike when you were younger?

A: Ask my colleagues how I practise. I always have a steady method at practises. My strength, power and speed are also very good. My endurance is not bad. I am sure I can still represent my country.

Q: The World Netball Cup is the Netball Federation’s main dream. What do you think about that trophy?

A: I led my team in one World Cup tournament held in England and we were placed 15th. I believe if we play continuously we can win a higher rank in the world. If we have a five-year plan we can perform well at the Netball World Cup. We could even be among the top ten countries in the world.

Q: I hate to ask this. But everyone must retire one day. Do you have any retirement plans?

A: Well, I would like to play for two more years. Now that I have a child I must spend more time with my family. After another two years I can retire happily.