A number of sports bodies are struggling to cope up with the heavy expenses they have to bear on their foreign tours where their athletes are expected to bring glory to the motherland.
The Sri Lanka School Cricket Association (SLSCA), an affiliate of both the country’s richest sports body, Sri Lanka Cricket, and the education ministry, is no exception when it comes to finding their expenses for their foreign tours. The international experience for the local school cricketers is given through a precarious environment where the underprivileged players could become the ultimate victims in this hostile financial situation.
The SLSCA recently sent a Sri Lanka Schools Under-13 team to Malaysia for a tri-nation tournament involving the hosts and Singapore as the other two nations. The cost of the tour was solely born by the players themselves. The team consisted of players from the rich Colombo schools and its suburbs as well and some players from outstation schools.
Some amount of money has been collected from the players who took part in the tour. According to a leading official of the SLSCA, there had been no compulsory amount for each player to be collected but those who could afford to have spent bigger amounts had looked after those who had come with lesser funds during the tour.
Although several poor players had found an easy passage courtesy the money spent by the more privileged players, many an eyebrows have raised and many questions were asked on the rationality of the team selection as the expenses of the whole contingent, including those of the SLSCA officials on tour, were covered by the generosity of those ‘rich players.’ A source close to the team alleged that several players who could afford grand amounts of money on the tour were getting ready to fly to Malaysia even before the selections were made.
"We don’t have sufficient funds to spend for these tours. The invitation (for the Malaysian tour) came a bit late so we didn’t have enough time to approach the SLC for help. We have been depending, in the past also, on the generosity of the players who were rich enough to spend some extra amount of money for a few others. There is no income, on the other hand, for the SLSCA to undertake this kind of tours," the official explained.
However, despite the SLSCA depending on the players’ money on foreign cricket trips as a practice, there had been no pains taken by the SLSCA officials to at least reduce the cost involved with this particular tour! Apart from the three formal officials involved with the tour (the coach, manager and chef-de-mission), there had been two other school officials touring with the same team and, interestingly, it was alleged that they too had traveled through the expenses of the player representatives of the tour.
If the SLSCA was more sensible, they could have easily minimised the tour expenditure by curtailing the number of persons involved with the local contingent, which has been the usual practice of the association over the past years.
It is sad to note that several officials have gone down to the level of trying to have joyrides at the expense of the junior cricketers’ money while a majority of the officials in the same association are doing their service on an honorary basis.
Apart from the teams that are selected by the SLC, the SLSCA too selects its own teams for various tours and by doing so, the association is making things beneficial for the host countries which are most of the time up-and-coming cricket nations. In the mean time, there won’t be any benefit gained by Sri Lanka, a Test playing country, by sending their school teams abroad.
The Sri Lanka school cricket team which had played against Malaysia and Singapore during the aforesaid tour, has come back victorious after becoming the tournament champions. According to the match results released by the SLSCA officials, Sri Lanka team have lost only one match and had recorded wins in the rest of the other matches played against the two minnowy opponents.