The Sri Lanka netball team that won the Asian Netball Championship on Sunday, June 28, returned home to a rousing welcome. The Lankan team remained unbeaten throughout the competition and they beat Singapore in the final by 77 points to 48 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
This was the fourth title the Sri Lankans lasses won in the Asian Championship and they last it won eight years ago in 2001. Apart from that, they emerged runners-up in 1985 and 1993.
It would have been a much more difficult task for the Sri Lankan players if not for this special goal shooter. She was the 6’9" tall Thargini Sivalingam, who scored 74 points in the final. She was named the top goal scorer in the competition with 380 goals under her belt.
The team’s hopes heavily banked on Sivalingam. Her stunning display guided Sri Lanka to this comfortable victory.
‘Sunday Island – Sportstar’ held an interview after Sivalingam returned home from their memorable win.
Following are excerpts:
Q: How did you take to netball?
A: First I played for my school and then for Batticaloa district in 2004. An open netball tournament was held in 2004 in Vavuniya and in that tournament I was picked for the National Pool. (Ms) Shiranthi Rajapaksa was the SL Netball Association President at that time and Jude Jayasekara was the Coach of the National netball team. In 2005, I joined Seylan Bank for which I am still playing.
Q: What forces are behind in your great achievements this year?
A: The credit should go to our team Coach (Ms) Thilaka Jinadasa. She created confidence in me and she was able to get 100% from me. In 2006, she was my Coach at the Seylan Bank and in 2009, she was appointed as the National Coach.
Q: Tell us about your family?
A: I’m from Evinai Punnalaikkadduvan and my hometown is Jaffna. My father was a farmer and mother is a housewife. I’ve three elder brothers, one younger brother and one younger sister.
Q: About your Coaches?
A: Jude Jayasekara, Triksy Nanayakkara and Thilaka Jinadasa. They were the ones. In addition, Jayanthi Somasekara helped me a lot while Seylan Bank gave their helping hand when it came to my financial requirements.
Q: What is the most unforgettable moment in your netball career?
A: Winning the Asian Championship this year.
Q: What are the other teams which challenged you most in this year’s Asian Championship?
A: Malaysia. But we were able to beat them in the 1st round Group match by 20 points and that boosted our confidence for the rest of the tournament.
Q: What do you think of the present situation of Sri Lankan netball?
A: I think we have young talent but you need sponsors to develop the game.
Q: What are your future goals?
A: Currently I’m playing for the Seylan Bank. I’m hoping to play in the netball world tournament and I would like to play this game as long as I can.