She was lucky enough to discover her passion at a very young age. Back then the choice she made to follow what made her happy as a little girl led her to where she stands today. She represented Sri Lanka at the World University Games 2019 held in Italy and was a member of the championship-winning tennis team at SLUG 2019. Along with being a women’s doubles semifinalist at the National Tennis Championship 2019, she won three titles at the Colors Night of the University of Kelaniya in 2019 as the best sportswoman, best fresher sportswoman, and best athlete (tennis).
She is Hasindi Lokuge who is an undergraduate of the University of Kelaniya. She joined with Moraspirit to share about her sports career.
How you were first introduced to sports?
I was first introduced to sports when I was six years old at my school, Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo. Mini tennis was the first sport I played in school.
What made you stick with tennis?
I developed the love for the sport when we first represented our school at a mini tennis tournament. Competing was fun for me and I loved being on the court even at 12 noon. My parents saw that I had a talent for the sport and was actively involved in my tennis career ever since.
Does your family have a sports background?
My dad has played cricket and football for his school, Wesley College, Colombo, and continued playing football, cricket, and hockey at mercantile levels for Sampath Bank PLC.
How supportive have they been?
They have been my biggest supporters throughout all these years. They spent a lot of effort and money on tennis for me, it is a very expensive sport to participate in. From training at 5.00 a.m., to matches, nutrition, and equipment my parents have always been there for me. Even now, my mom is the loudest cheerer when I’m playing matches.
What sort of challenges did you face in your sports career?
Sri Lanka has not been able to come up with the necessary educational facilities for student athletes. When I was playing competitive tennis, there were many times that I missed school, exams, and classes. However, sports were never an excuse for bad grades. Balancing studies with sports was the biggest challenge I faced.
The lack of women as coaches, physical trainers, gym instructors, and doctors who practiced sports medicine was a distinct disadvantage and became a very uncomfortable experience especially when touring.
Do you think there is reluctance among women and girls to join sports, especially at the university level?
Yes, there is. I think there are many sides to the issue at hand. I have seen some girls who never participated in sports at school taking part in university sports. However, I have also seen some girls who had to give up their sporting career to get into local universities through to the highly competitive Advanced Level examination. I have seen girls who want to start sports at university but don’t because they fear that sports will disrupt their studies.
If someone who hasn't done any sport at school but wishes to do a sport at university, what is your message to them?
If you don’t try something new, you’ll never know what you could have become.
Do you think it is worth it for them to start a sport at university?
It is worth it. Doing a sport in university is not just about winning or losing, it’s about being a part of a team, encouraging each other, and learning to work under a leadership. Participating in sports competitions particularly at the university level is a team effort, even in individual sports such as tennis
How do you think beginners can improve themselves to become good players at the university level?
In university sports, new players have the opportunity to play with the most experienced players. Experience plays a crucial role in good competition. The more you play, the better you get. With steady and effective training, you can make a significant improvement.
Is there anything that you think should be changed in university sports and how it operates to encourage more women to involve in sports?
I think the basis for sporting life starts at the school and grows into the university level. Yet, the prevailing educational system in the country does not encourage students to start or continue sports. I think that more women should pursue careers as professionals in sports as role models for young girls around the country.
Whom would you like to thank for helping you to be the talented tennis player who you are right now?
My parents, my school, my university, and the mentors of the Department of Physical Education of my university, my coaches, my friends, my teammates, and everyone who has supported me throughout my journey.
Thank you a lot Hasindi for the words you shared with us. All of us in Moraspirit wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.