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27 March 2021 | in NUSF News

Striving amidst the pandemic: Sri Lankan university sport headed in the right direction

The Sri Lanka Universities' Sports Association (SLUSA) is the governing body of university sports in Sri Lanka and thoroughly believes that university students will experience a complete education only if physical education and sports are a part of their curriculum. Hence, SLUSA is on a mission to promote and expand access to sports and physical education, enabling every university student to participate.


FISU Student Ambassadors Ranoj Norbert and Themiya Damruwan decided to sit down with President of the SLUSA, Dr. Chandrakantha Mahendranathan, to speak about the history of the organisation and to see what is in store for the future.


"It was an initiative of Mr. Lesly Hadunge, a former Olympian and the first Sri Lankan Director of Physical Education at the University of Ceylon in Peradeniya,” said Dr. Mahendranathan, speaking about the founding of SLUSA.  “His idea of inaugurating a series of Inter-University Sports Competitions led to the formation of the Ceylon Universities' Sports Association (CUSA) in 1969, which went on to become the Sri Lanka Universities' Sports Association in the 1980s".


SLUSA currently reaches 80,000 students nationwide and is comprised of 14 national universities. It was in 2020 that these Sri Lankan university students also celebrated their inaugural International Day of University Sport (IDUS) on 20 September.  Dr. Mahendranathan spoke fondly about seeing the activities carried out by young people for IDUS.


"IDUS celebrations witnessed the role of SLUSA focused not only just on enhancing the sports activities among the undergraduates, but also on teaching young people social and leadership skills through sport,” he said. “SLUSA is so fortunate of the fact that IDUS celebrations were held just as planned before the second outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka”.


Sri Lanka is no stranger to celebrating university sport, hosting their very own Sri Lanka University Games (SLUG) every three years. The most recent edition held in 2019 (also the 13th edition), was held with over 6,000 participants and hosted at the University of Ruhuna at 35 venues over 13 days of action.


Performance in sport action is just one of the many themes of SLUSA’s Strategic Plan 2019-2023, with other goals such as representation, participation, quality and governance being of equal importance as mentioned by Dr. Mahendranathan.


“Under this strategic plan, we are planning to initiate a sport volunteering academy like the FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy here in Sri Lanka to train volunteers for SLUG and Inter-University Championships, as well as to increase participation," said the President.


With this strategy, comes the focus on increasing participation of female students in sports and leadership roles within the university system.


"In the current committee appointed for the term of 2019-2023, three of the main roles within the association, including the President, Secretary and Treasurer are held by women,” explained Dr. Mahendranathan.


Dr. Mahendranathan concluded the interview by thanking all those involved with Sri Lankan university sport and SLUSA.


"I take this opportunity to thank all our officials and members of the SLUSA who have been playing their roles exceptionally both online and offline. Congratulations to the FISU Ambassadors of Sri Lanka 2020/21 for their enthusiasm and commitment in enhancing the sports activities through SLUSA".


By: Ranoj Norbert and Themiya Damruwan (FISU Student Ambassadors)