The Sri Lanka water polo team will be heading off to Hong Kong this evening to take part in the Asia Pacific Water Polo Tournament 2016.
The tournament will be hosting its 18th edition and will be held from the 19th to the 21st of August, in Hong Kong. Teams from around the Asia Pacific region such as, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Guam, Singapore, Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka will be participating in the tournament.
Captain Yahan Samarajeewa, will be leading a well-balanced 15 man squad heading into Hong Kong. In 2014, the National team that went for the Asia Pacific Tournament only managed to finish off in 4th place, losing to Hong Kong, who in the end became Champions of the tournament. Hong Kong also won the tournament in 2015 and will be the defending champions in 2016.
Skipper Yahan, speaking to ThePapare.com mentioned that the team has been training extremely hard and will be looking forward to winning nothing less than a medal for Sri Lanka. He also mentioned that the team comprises of a well experienced set of seniors and are pushed ahead by some very enthusiastic juniors and says that this senior-junior combination is what makes the 2016 team different from the previous ones.
Yahan Samarajeewa, the Royal College captain of 2009 and the most experienced man from the team is bound by 14 other very unique individuals, 7 of which have represented the nation previously. Second in command, Devshan de Mel who was the Junior National team captain and also the Thomian captain in 2013, has had many years of experience in the national team and will play a major role in this year’s squad as well.
Big names such as Shehan Dassanayake who is the current Sri Lanka Navy captain, Wasim Bawa, the big made Navy prop and Chethana Munasinghe who also represents the Sri Lanka Navy, will add to the gravity of the team. Deelaka Weeraratne and Aqeel Sourjah who have led S. Thomas’ College Water Polo in the years 2014 and 2015 respectively, along with Kosala Wijewardena and Keshan Munasinghe, yet again from S. Thomas’ add to the young blood of the team. The team also comprises of Sri Lanka’s best goal keepers, Avinda Caldera and Kosala Wijewardena, who will play a major role guarding the goals for the Lankans. S.J.S Silva, M.P.D.S.C Kumarasinghe and K.H Karunaratne from the Sri Lanka Air Force team will also be representing the country.
Apart from the talent of the players, the team is also bound by the veteran Aloka Prelis, the Head Coach of the team. Aloka also happens to be the coach of the Royal College and Sri Lanka Navy Water Polo teams. He will also be supported by Ajantha Silva as the assistant coach, who himself has been in the post for the past few years.
“Water polo in Sri Lanka has evolved over the past few years. This year’s team will be going in hard and we will be aiming for a medal and make Sri Lanka proud”, said skipper Yahan speaking to ThePapare.com.
The 2016 team is with no doubt one of the most experienced and well-balanced water polo teams the nation has seen. The boys have been training tirelessly day and night, and will be expecting to succeed in winning the Asia Pacific Water Polo Championship, following the steps of the triumphant National Rugby 7’s team, champions of the Asia Rugby 7’s series.