One cannot undermine the individual sacrifice and commitment to achieve greater heights, be it sports, studying or spending your precious 4 years as a university student. This year would have definitely taken its toll on a number of committed individuals we call as sportsmen and women but nonetheless, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel as yesterday was indeed the best example to answer the question, "is it really worth being a part of university sports?"
For the first time in Sri Lanka, the International Day of University Sport, better known as IDUS, was celebrated on the 20th of September at the University of Kelaniya premises.
This celebration was brought to life with the Sri Lanka University Sports Association (SLUSA) along with the 'Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire' (FISU) student committee for Sri Lanka. This event was participated by Sports Council representatives of all universities and their respective media units for this was intended to bring together those who are engaged in sports and wider related activities.
This event commenced with a warm welcome from the President of SLUSA Dr. Mrs. Chandrakantha Mahendranathan, from Eastern University of Sri Lanka, followed by the Dancing Society of UoK igniting the stage with a flamboyant opening in a cultural fusion of dance that definitely made us all feel Sri Lankan. This was followed an important presentation by the student ambassadors of FISU, Ranoj Norbert and Themiya Damruwan, on what this whole event is about and why everyone was brought together for this historic occasion. It is worthy to mention that it was on this very day in 1924 when the first Student World Championship was held in Poland.
The Chief Guest was Senior Prof. Janitha Liyanage, Vice Chairperson of the UGC, and she reminded the audience on why sports are important to a student's life. An awards ceremony was followed and the first Inter University Sports Quiz prizes were distributed among the winners. This was also a first time and intended to create awareness on sports and related organisations. This was followed by presentations by SLUSA Vice President, event chairperson and Director of Physical Education at the University of Moratuwa Mr. K.R.D.C. Rathnamudali and FISU student ambassador Akhila Nilaweera, who respectively spoke about the history of SLUSA and the opportunities available at FISU as sportsmen, volunteers and journalists.
Proceeding by messages from the international representatives of FISU was a very warm speech by the Guest of Honor, the Vice Chancellor of the hosts for the day, Senior Professor Nilanthi De Silva, who stressed on the sports culture and proud initiatives of the organising committee. This was followed by the Keynote Speech by Prof. Thilak Gamage, the former president of SLUSA. The most important session of the day was the panel discussion and with the limited time available, it proved to be a very fruitful one to the audience. The panelists were Prof. Tharaka Dassanayake, Senior Prof. Sudath Kalingamudali, Dr. Narein Perera and Mr. Kaushal Manawadu, all whom have excelled in university sports and academics in the right balance. This was moderated by FISU representative Mevan Induruwa. Balancing university life, the employability of students engaged in sports, changes in culture and university calendars the importance of team sports to be a team player, the importance of physical conditioning for optimising performance were only some of the key topcs discussed with a lot of key points to take home.
The entertainment items and team building activities were unforgettable for all participants as they got the chance to engage in team building activities that go in line with the FISU spirit. The conclusion of the event saw all participants and media volunteers awarded certificates of participation. Speaking to Ranoj Norbert who spoke on behalf of the organising committee, stressed the importance of all the initiatives to be implemented in the future and the event brought people together for the first time in Sri Lanka, which hints a very promising future for university sport. The end goal is to uplift the university sports culture, not just among those engaged in sports but the wider community and enjoy youth to the fullest. #LetsIDUS 2020 was a success thanks to the tireless effort of all who were a part of making this a reality.
Before we conclude, let's ask ourselves the same question said before, is it really worth it to be part of university sports? To everyone who has been tirelessly working hard and especially attended this event would without a doubt say YES in unison! Sports create unimaginable opportunities and it is important to remind ourselves that we need to strive to be the best in what we do. As Moraspirit we would extend our heartiest gratitude to SLUSA, FISU and University of Kelaniya for having as their media partner in this grand event.