In an Interview on Derana GEN XYZ, former Sri Lankan cricket team captain Kumar Sangakkara and Thiyum Abeysinghe, secretary of the National Sports Council of Sri Lanka discussed reviving sports in Sri Lanka. They talked about broadening the ambit of what is considered ‘sports’, with surfing and esports now being coming under its wing.
“One of the other things I've seen was the change in the mindset of what sports available are. Traditionally we had sports but now in the modern-day things are changing. Surfing (has) come about and that various forms of surfing (like) kite surfing, etc. We’ve had electronic sports that have come about,” said Sangakkara. He also said, “Traditionally if you ask me what a sport was, I wouldn’t mention electronic sports, but that is also a very special area that we can concentrate on. So, we also have to broaden our minds as to what can be included in this gamut of sports. There are a lot of good things, and good things which we can hopefully make better.”
Thiyum Abeysinghe, secretary of the National Sports Council of Sri Lanka chimed in, saying, “To elaborate on (what) Kumar mentioned which is esports, it’s a billion-dollar industry and we have got the opportunity to actually meet some of the Sri Lankan companies, who actually developed certain products, and some gamers. I think when we were smaller when we said sports it's always cricket or something else which was played outdoors but we never thought that esports is actually a sport. I think Sri Lanka has great potential, we have the talent and we have some companies working on it. That’s an area we can actually improve on. That’s a pillar that we’re working on.”
In 2019, Sri Lanka also announced its National Esports Team which represented the island country in the IESF (International Esports Federation) championship tournament. The Sri Lankan Roster for the National Dota 2 Team consisted of captain Isuru ‘ Deathwish’ Lokuge, Heshan ‘ Sathan’ Sanjaya, Kalindu ‘MorningStar’ Pathirana, Kaveesha ‘NoobKavi’ Kagasuru and Dinuka ‘6ixx’ Perera. The team has been selected Through LAN and Online Qualifiers. The Sri Lankan team wore jerseys similar to those of the Sri Lankan cricket team.
Sri Lanka has officially recognised esports as an official sport, as per a declaration published in October 2019. The Ministry of Sports in Sri Lanka published the declaration following an announcement on 26th September by Harin Fernando, Minister of Telecommunications and Sports. Sri Lanka has been a member of IESF since 2010 and after a decade-long effort by the Sri Lankan, Esports Association to see esports legitimised. Esports previously made an appearance at the 2018 Asian Games as a demonstration sport, leading to the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka aiding the effort to approve its official status as a sport. Sri Lanka has now joined the likes of France, Finland, Kazakhstan, and China as a country that recognises esports as an official sport.
Watch the whole interview below: