Cricket is by far the popular sport among boys’ schools. On the contrary, cricket doesn’t even feature among the top three popular sports among girls’ schools. While netball remains the number one sport among girls at schools, they also give preference to basketball followed by swimming and athletics.
Ms. Apsari Tillakaratne, the convener of women’s cricket, is on a mission. Her plan is to make cricket the most popular sport in school. That’s one of her long term plans.
Ms. Apsari also has short term plans. The foremost of them is to pick a decent team for the upcoming ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh in December.
She had her plans set in putting up a formidable outfit for the first ever Under-19 World Cup for girls, but those plans received a severe blow due to the outbreak of the pandemic. Now she goes about her business meticulously, visiting schools and encouraging interested young players.
The support she has received from District and Provincial coaches and the talent search manager of SLC has been enormous. Sri Lanka Schools’ Cricket Association and the Ministry of Education have also provided full support for her efforts.
With December in mind, there is not enough time to put through teams at schools. Instead, her plan has been to encourage individual players and direct them to coaches. District and Provincial Cricket Associations have been tremendous help as Apsari reaches out to outstations where there are many talents.
While doing all these activities, strict health guidelines have been followed as safety of players and coaches is paramount.
Ms. Apsari does keep an eye on schools and those who are in-charge of the sport at schools for the enthusiasm they show and if there is keenness, she is happy to invest on those schools as a start.
The interest for women’s cricket has grown by many folds in the last decade and these initiatives will surely help create more awareness.
The interest for cricket among girls has gone through the roof in the last ten years. Regular ICC events in both 50 overs and 20 overs being conducted are one such reason and more importantly these games are televised nowadays.
India has taken a huge lead in promoting women’s cricket given their recent good showing in global events and more girls are taking part in cricket. Sri Lankan girls like Chamari Atapattu making it to the Big Bash League and other televised franchise based events is creating interest and you will see more and more schools taking to the sport.
Cricket among girls at schools has been promoted through Big Matches but as we move forward, Ms. Apsari sees the need to have regular competition for girls. Parents who are keen to see their children taking part in sports tend to channel their little ones to cricket when they see regular competitions being held.