ARASL to reach the outstations
The Amateur Rowing Association of Sri Lanka (ARASL) is planning on a widespread programme to introduce Rowing to outstations, to increase its populairty islandwide.
ARASL President Rohan Fernando told that the programme has already been initiated in the South, adding that, it will reach the North and East soon.
“The ARASL started off the programme ‘Dakunata Rowing’ (Rowing to the South) and already over 10 schools have jointly formed the Southern Schools Rowing Association. We will be the facilitators of the project and we intend to add more numbers to the schools competitions currently conducted in the country,” Fernando stated.
Rowing, one of the oldest Water Sports in Sri Lanka, has been confined to a handful of leading institutions in Colombo.
A few years back the ARASL kick-started a project to introduce the sport to more schools, resulting in over 10 schools engaged in Rowing by now.
In addition, the ARASL opened its doors to other sectors, mainly the Armed forces, breaking the domain of the Colombo Rowing Club, the oldest Rowing club in Sri Lanka.
Today the number of Rowing clubs has grown to almost 10, transforming the National championship into a more competitive one.
With more schools coming in, the ARASL intends to adhere to international standards of Rowing, where they promote Rowing on a stretch of a 2,000-metre course.
“Our intention, through this programme, is not only to take the sport to the outstations, we will also give them all the necessary assistance such as facilities, technology and opportunity. We will begin with the international requirement of rowing on a 2,000-metre course, so the newcomers will get accustomed to global standards and and its conditions. In the long run, it’s about winning medals at international level,” Fernando explained.
The ARASL has earmarked Koggala as the base station for schools in the South, and will supply the equipment for starters, while assisting the schools to purchase and maintain their own equipment.
The schools could share or, hire ARASL equipment for a nominal fee.
“I don’t believe in handouts. When you want something, you also have to give something back, so that, it will be a win-win situation. We provide the facilities, technology and the opportunity. They also have to make some investment. Unlike other sports, it’s an investment worth making, with other avenues for schools could also benefit.”
The ARASL intends to break the tradition of Rowing being labeled an elite sport, and today, the hike in participation at the annual schools championship is a fitting testimony.
In the weeks to come, the ARASL will reach schools in the North and East with similar plans.
In so doing, the ARASL intends to promote the formation of new clubs at regional levels and make it a long standing exercise.
Fernando stressed that, to make this project a success, the ARASL has a highly viable administrative structure, where there is no politics involved, unlike in many other sports.
“The positive sign is that, those who take up office at ARASL and clubs, are former top Oarsmen, with no politics involved in Rowing. Transparency and good governance is practised at the highest level, which gives a further boost to developing and expanding the sport,” explained Fernando.
Rowing has existed in Sri Lanka for over 150 years, mainly due to an elite societal involvement in the sport.
However, with the ARASL coming into the scene, as the local governing authority for Rowing in the country, it has gradually made progress in increasing the numbers and unearthing more talent.
The ARASL has made it alone in all its efforts, not even relying on assistance from the State/Ministry of Sports (MoS).
However, today, matters have changed and the MoS is showing a keen interest in helping out ARASL with its farsighted project, after 4 Oarsmen from the Sri Lanka Army and Sri Lanka Navy, qualified to represent the country at the forthcoming Asian Games.
“This itself is a positive message that the sport is developing at a healthy pace. Few years ago, this kind of an achievement would have been just a thought. With the right people and proper planning, things are taking place in a positive way. Rowing is not an elite sport anymore. This is not a short-term plan. We hope to see more schools and clubs from around the country rowing in by 2020, with our Oarsmen/Oarswomen regularly winning medals at international level.”