Netball included in 2021 Asian Indoor Games

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Lakshmi Victoria on Asian Indoor Games, Thilaka Jinadasa and tournaments in 2021

Sri Lanka Netball are in for a busy 2021, provided the current worldwide situation of the COVID-19 pandemic improves. The 2020 season looks likely to be wiped out owing to the pandemic. 

Speaking exclusively with ThePapare.com, President of the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka, Lakshmi Victoria, elaborated on a number of points including the 2020 Asian Championship, plans for 2021 and the recent resignation of Head Coach Thilaka Jinadasa.

“I am pleased to say that the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has included Netball into the Asian Indoor Games, which is a big moment for the sport. Apart from the Asian Championship and the Netball World Cup, the Sri Lanka National team will now have another international tournament to participate in,” she stated.

The 6th edition of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) will be held from 24th April to 5th May 2021 in Thailand. There will be 24 sports, to which Netball and Floorball are the new additions. Along with the 45 nations of the OCA, 17 countries from the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) will also participate. 

This means that aside from Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, Sri Lanka will have the added pressure of playing against the likes of Samoa and Fiji from the Oceania region. Samoa and Fiji finished 13th & 14th respectively in the 2019 Netball World Cup. Sri Lanka who finished 15th by beating Singapore 78-57, lost to Samoa and Fiji, 65-55 & 59-44 respectively.    

“Given the current situation around the world, the 2020 Asian Netball Championship will be cancelled, since this edition does not hold as much significance as the 2022 edition, which is a World Cup qualifier,” she added.

2021 will definitely be a busy year for the Sri Lanka Youth National team as they will be participating in the Asian Youth Netball Championship and the Netball World Youth Cup.

“The Asian Youth Netball Championship will be held in August 2021, and South Korea will most likely be the hosts since they were unable to host the Asian Netball Championship. The Netball World Youth Cup will be played in Fiji in June,” Lakshmi also mentioned.

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Sri Lanka will have to participate in the two youth tournaments without their star shooter Mellony Wijesinghe, who passed away due to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia back in October 2019. 

Speaking on the highly talked about recent resignation of Thilaka Jinadasa from the post of National Head Coach, she had this to say;

“I greatly admire and appreciate the work done by Coach Thilaka. She won the Asian back after 2009 and took Sri Lanka Netball to new heights. However, I do not wish to talk about her resignation at this moment.”

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