How Apsari Tillakaratne Pioneered Cricket For School Girls In Sri Lanka?

It is a truth that we see more boys than girls interested in playing cricket at the grass-root level. Men’s cricket is popular and successful due to the fact that it stems from the competitive school and local cricket. While in the case of girls, it is not easy to see them playing cricket in every other school.

Apsari Tillakaratne
Apsari Tillakaratne. Pic Credits

In 2016, Apsari Tillakaratne was appointed as the Convener of Women’s Cricket in Sri Lanka. With an aim to promote women’s cricket at the grassroot level and encourage girls to choose the sport, Apsari also helped build a national pathway for women’s cricket in the districts of the country.
With the help of other coaches and associations, they introduced a district and provincial tournament for under 23 girls in 2017. They encouraged various schools to play matches.
Apsari said that they funded the big matches and gave each school Rs 100,000. Sri Lanka cricket arranged equipment and coaches for them.
“Our main target was to promote schools outside Colombo”, said Apsari to Sa’adi Thawfeeq of Sunday Observer. She also stressed that they focused more on the outstation areas, as talent was abundant in those places but they lacked support and proper guidance.

“When we selected the schools, it was mostly on the principals’ enthusiasm and interest. Some schools gave 100 percent and within the school they prepared themselves for the matches.

“My focus mainly was in the outstations. There are so many good talented players they don’t have enough support. Colombo girls have everything. We just played a few big schools like Anula, Ratnavale and Visakha but our main target was to promote schools outside Colombo.

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“In Vavuniya after the war according to the people there, it was the first time girls started to play cricket in the northern part after we created this district and provincial tournament for girls. There were 13 girls who were without their parents lost during the war and wanted to play cricket.

Conducting those big matches was helpful in spreading awareness about women’s cricket and she said that a lot of schools started playing cricket after that.
Apsari is very positive about the introduction of awards for schoolgirls at the Observer-Mobitel School Cricketer Awards. She feels that it is a very good encouragement and hopes that girls will take this opportunity and continue playing the sport. “There is a lot of talent but the only thing is we have to monitor them, guide them and provide them the facilities”, she signs off.
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