Success in the sports arena doesn’t come by easily. MoraSpirit doesn’t only nurture and promote sports, it also leads every Sri Lankan university on a voyage of self-exploration where they could identify their inherent strengths and weaknesses. This will undeniably prove fruitful in overcoming challenges relevant to sports.
The University of Visual and Performing Arts, abbreviated to UVPA, is an institution that develops and refines the knowledge of human experience in cultural, aesthetic, creative and entertainment areas. This premier university, however, hasn’t had quite an easy journey in the domain of sports. In the last inter-university sporting event held, SLUG 2019, UVPA was very unfortunately pushed to the last place with an overall score of 23. Since the 2nd to last team had managed to secure a score of 57, UVPA wasn’t just last, but was last by a quite a margin. Therefore, this time we recruited certain sports captains of UVPA as the sailors to steer the ship towards their self-discovery in the sports field.
At the moment, UVPA works on producing 2189 talented innovative artists. We can understand, through this meager student population, that the number of UVPA representatives in various sports contests would, inevitably, be much less than that from other universities. This leads to UVPA easily losing an upper hand in such competitions. Anyhow, this doesn’t suffice as a reason for the poor performance of UVPA, since Uva Wellassa University, which has a student count close to UPVA’s, was able to lead UVPA in the SLUG 2019 points table by a significant difference of about 50 points.
UVPA is composed of four faculties namely, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Dance and Drama, Faculty of Music, and Faculty of Visual Arts. The sports unit of UVPA is located within the premises belonging to the Faculty of Visual Arts, which also happens to be the faculty with the least student count. To add to that, the one and only gymnasium for physical recreation is also situated within the Visual Arts Faculty. As the athletics captains of UVPA, Sasanka, shared with us, most students of the other faculties are not even aware of the existence of these sports facilities in the university. As a result, it is the students from the Faculty of Visual Arts who frequently get nominated as the president of this sports unit. The fact that these privileges are cooped up within the faculty inhabited by the least number of students, has put UVPA at a major disadvantage.
Establishing a sports council, as suggested by Sasanka, seems to be the best solution for this problem. Almost all state universities, with the exception of UVPA, have a sports council to regulate and coordinate sports activities, while at the same time, manage relevant business and financial arrangements. A sports council comprising of representatives from all four faculties would definitely be a step ahead in involving more students in sports.
In most universities, students contemplate on how to allocate their spare time. Should they get involved in an aesthetic activity like music or join a sports team? But in a university like UVPA, students indulge in aesthetic-oriented visual arts, performing arts, and arts research through academics itself. Under such a circumstance, we would think that students in UVPA are more likely to take up sports as their extracurricular activity.
However, the sports captains of UVPA revealed that this notion is mistaken. As in any other state university, the heavy academic load ignites a trepidation in students. This causes students to refrain from engaging actively in any extracurricular activity, including sports. Strong artistic reflection in academics and preference for sports activities in leisure time isn’t, therefore, exactly linked to each other. The lack of interest of students in sports is, in fact, a difficulty encountered by UVPA, pointed out Sasanka, just like any other university. This is termed as the dearth of ‘intrinsic motivation.’ To put it in simpler words, students don’t believe they can be contented by participating in sports.
Even so, the chess captain of UVPA, Kalana, holds a contrasting view to what was stated above. “Lack of student participation and lack of facilities for sports are the major problems UPVA faces in sports. However, in spite of these minimum facilities, the commitment of sportsmen and sportswomen to promote the sport should be greatly appreciated,” were his words. This highlights the great zeal with which the chess players of UVPA take up their game.
Both Sasanka and Kalana were of the same mind in feeling that shortfall of ‘extrinsic motivation’ is a major issue that could impede student’s involvement in sports. Recognizing and valuing the hard work and commitment of a student in a sports activity, is undoubtedly a tremendous source of extrinsic motivation. Having said that, we can see that measures taken by sports authorities in the university to appreciate champions of various sports contests would spike up the interest students hold for sports.
An apt solution that Sasanka had suggested was organizing a Colours Awarding Ceremony. Most state universities in the country hold annual Colour Awarding Ceremonies to appreciate the best performing athletes in their universities. Lack of such tangible motivation for the students of UPVA who take up sports is indeed a reason for the unenthusiastic sports culture in the university. Such ceremony would bring the proud UPVA achievers in the sports arena to the limelight. It would boost the achievers to create new records and expand their horizons of triumphs. Besides, this will instill the fire to succeed in participants who might have missed the pedestal of victory. All in all, this sort of event would definitely be an excellent extrinsic motivator. In addition to that, organizing annual inter-faculty sports events would increase faculty-wise participation and assist captains to identify potential newbies for their sports.
UVPA does provide several facilities to enhance sports despite the modest student population. UVPA offers an opportunity for students to engage in a variety of sports such as track and field sports, netball, volleyball, badminton, football, cricket, elle, chess, carrom, and taekwondo. Sports articles necessary for each of these activities are also provided by the university. Additionally, the sportsmen and women of UVPA receive the guidance of an exceptional coaching staff. Still, there exist some infrastructural deficiencies like the absence of outdoor grounds and the inadequacy of just one small gym for all sports. It is important that adequate attention is paid to overcome these shortcomings.
We sincerely hope that when UVPA reaches the destination of this voyage, it would be a champion in sports as the champion it already is in visual and performing arts.