Everyone should take up sports activities – Former Sri Lanka hockey captain Nayana Madushani Jayanetthi | Sunday Observer

Everyone should take up sports activities – Former Sri Lanka hockey captain Nayana Madushani Jayanetthi

10 May, 2021

Nayana was a good team leader, a positive thinker and a good attacking forward, said a coach when asked about former Sri Lanka women’s hockey team captain, Nayana Madushani Jayanetthi. This made the Youth Observer to interview this hard fighter to discuss her path to success.

Q. First, I like to go back to the beginning of your hockey career. How did you get involved in this sport?

A. I took up the game when I was a little girl at St. Anthony’s Convent, Kandy. My school teachers encouraged me to play hockey. That was the beginning of my hockey career.

Q: In the recent past the top hockey players came from Matale, Colombo or Badulla. But you are a Kandy girl. How did you succeed?

A: We know most of the players from Matale and Colombo are more skillful than the others. But it is not a permanent thing. If you are clever, you could perform better no matter which part of the country you are from. I proved it by becoming a successful hockey player.

Q. Hockey is not a popular game in our country and also not a sport that consumes a lot of money. Has it affected your sports life?

A. I think sports is a kind of meditation. Any sport can make our minds stable. It does not matter whether it is hockey, cricket or football. Hockey is not popular in the country. However, it is popular in the Central Province.

But we know that cricket is the richest sport in the country. That is the reality. There are so many professional franchises with cricket that one can join and earn money. However, my husband (Nalantha – a hockey player) and I have found success as sportspersons in our own way.

Q: In the beginning how did you balance your sports activities and studies?

A: I cannot say that I cleverly balanced sports and education. But I tried my best to have a balance. I never ignored studies although I had to attend hockey practises. I made two attempts to pass the GCE Advanced Level examination.

Q. I like to discuss your career in sports?

A. Like I said earlier, I started my sports activities while a student at St. Anthony’s Convent, Kandy. At first I was a member of the school hockey team. Later on I captained the side. After leaving school I joined the Navy. This changed my life’s journey. I will retire from the Navy in 2023 and I thank the Navy for helping to succeed in life.

Q: In which year did you captain the Sri Lanka national team?

A: In 2014-15 I captained Sri Lanka women’s team.

Q: Is it true that you are the only player to score a goal against India in hockey?

A: Yes, I am the one and only player who succeeded in scoring a goal against the strongest hockey team in the world. I am very proud about it.

Q. During your career, you had a chance to lead the national team?

A. Yes. I led the Sri Lanka national team. If any player can represent his country and also lead its national team it is a remarkable and rare opportunity. I won that rare chance. Every player gave me their fullest cooperation. I am happy about it. I will cherish that period for the rest of my life.

Q. How are things in your personal life? Would you like to talk about it?

A. I got married a couple of years ago and I have a baby daughter. She is just past two and I am expecting another baby in the near future. My husband was also a hockey player and he too led the national team.

He too works in the Navy and plays hockey for the Navy team. As such we are a hockey family.

However, I will never tell my daughter to become a hockey player one day. Because both of us are suffering badly due to this sport. It is not the fault of the sport. National hockey players are not recognised. It is only a personal achievement for us. So why should we encourage the next generation to take up hockey. I will push my children to do sports but not hockey. Maybe I am wrong but we are suffering due to it.

However, I know that decision is not in our hands. That will be their personal choice. I will be with them whatever sport they choose. However, taking part in individual sports will help gain recognition.

I thank my hockey coaches, school teachers, my parents, senior players, my team mates, relatives and my husband for contributing to my hockey career.