Sri Lankan sport, despite hardship, is making us proud
It has been a happy few months for Sri Lankan sports fans, with Sri Lanka’s thrilling Asia Cup triumph last Sunday, becoming Asian Netball Champions, and also winning the Legends League Cricket match on the very same day, not to mention securing four medals at the Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham only a few months ago, which included our country’s first ever medal in wrestling.
Sri Lankans may be struggling to keep their heads above water given the growing inflation caused by the prevailing economic crisis, but at the very least, Lankan athletes are thriving and they’ve been providing some quality entertainment.
Many are treating these sporting events as a form of much-needed distraction from the daily doom and gloom we are faced with thanks to the collapse of our economy. It has not been an easy year for Lankans and any type of distraction has proven to be most welcome.
When The Sunday Morning Brunch spoke to some sports fans about the recent wins, many shared that these sporting events had been a great distraction from their daily realities. Many even noted that the general mood had been largely negative – despite how hard they tried to maintain a positive outlook on life, the conversations all led to discussions on how expensive something had become or how difficult it was to afford certain necessities and other struggles. Therefore, these sporting events have been a great excuse to set aside the talk of politics and challenges and simply enjoy the company of others by forgetting their burdens for just a moment.
Especially with the Asia Cup win, public opinion has been unanimous that this had been the first time in a long time that they had sat together with some of their loved ones in a shared space without the talk turning to the rapidly increasing inflation rates.
“On Sunday, a few friends and I gathered together, made some food, and sat down to watch the match. It was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions. At first, we were ready to revert back to our usual moods, accepting our fate to be miserable, but when things turned around and the celebratory mood set in, it felt like a weight had been lifted. Sporting events always have a way of bringing people together even temporarily and that was a great moment to be able to enjoy,” Pujanee Galappaththi said.
Pujanee also added: “It has also been really nice to see how we are able to celebrate all types of sporting wins. Most of the time, cricket tends to outshine our other sporting achievements, but this time around people are feeling real gratitude for both our cricketers and also the incredible netball champions.”
Expressing similar sentiments, Antoinette George said: “I believe these wins have certainly been a delightful distraction for most of us from the many hardships we are going through. It gave us this relief and something else to think about and enjoy as a group.”
Speaking about the general experience of witnessing sporting excellence and having an excuse to celebrate, Uwin Lugoda noted: “I am not that into cricket but sporting wins are always a shared experience. It doesn’t really matter if you are not an avid fan of the sport, especially cricket. The sport is so important to Sri Lanka so we all naturally care about it to some degree and it was simply a nice moment to have experienced as a Sri Lankan. It was a similar feeling when we heard about the wins at the Commonwealth Games too, especially with the medal we won for wrestling. I believe it sparks hope as it marks the opening of new opportunities for our country.”
Uditha Rangana shared similar sentiments with regard to the recent sporting wins, especially the medals from the Commonwealth Games: “These wins represent hope, and hope is a valuable currency for a nation like ours in these trying times.”
For the longest time, Sri Lanka has been touting its potential – even as young children, all we ever heard about was how much potential our country had to become a great nation. While our country has definitely come a long way, there is no arguing that there have been many pitfalls, with the current crisis being the perfect example of the mistakes we’ve made along the way.
Regardless, along with that concept of potential, we also had hope – as a nation, many hoped that things would become better, and on occasion, things did become better and we were then left hopeful of bigger and better things.
Sporting wins such as these, be they medals at the Commonwealth Games which have made us excited about the upcoming Olympics and the Asian Games, or cricketing wins which have us looking forward to the T20 World Cup, all have caused hope to blossom.
Hope, being an incredibly positive emotion, appears to be the perfect distraction from our realities. Sri Lanka is not in the best shape at the moment, but we are resilient, much like our athletes who are showing great tenacity and determination in their pursuits. Since these athletes represent our country and become beacons of Lankan success for the world to see, Sri Lankans are also able to look at them and feel momentary comfort before we go back to experiencing life in hard mode.