Volleyball, Sri Lanka’s National Sport


As we mentioned in these columns last week, a National Sport is a sport or a game that is considered to be an integral part of the culture of a nation and is a symbol of the particular country. Every nation has a National Flag, National Emblem, National Song and some have a National Tree and a National Bird as well.

In 1991, Sri Lanka officially declared Volleyball as its National Sport. Before Volleyball was made the National Sport, ‘Elle’ had been having recognition as a de facto National Sport.

Volleyball is Sri Lanka ‘de jure’ National Sports as we elaborated in our previous columns. Volleyball was elevated to that level in 1991 alongside the announcement of the National Tree, ‘Na’ or Mesua Ferrea or ‘Ceylon Ironwood,’ National Flower ‘Nil Manel’ or the Blue Lily, and the National Animal or Fauna, that is known in Sri Lanka as the National Bird, which is the Jungle Fowl.

When the decision has been made on the National Sport of Sri Lanka, it was reported that steps had been taken in year 1991 to give ‘Elle’ the recognition as the National Sport. But the idea has been later nullified due practical difficulties in carrying the sport ‘Elle’ outside the country, to the international level.

Origin of Volleyball –

On Feb. 9, 1895, in Holyoke, Massachusetts (USA), William G. Morgan, a YMCA physical education director, created a new game called Mintonette as a pastime to be played preferably indoors and by any number of players.

The game took some of its characteristics from tennis and handball. Another indoor sport, basketball, was catching on in the area, having been invented just ten miles (16 km) away in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, only four years before. Mintonette was designed to be an indoor sport less rough than basketball for older members of the YMCA, while still requiring a bit of athletic effort.

The first rules, written down by William G. Morgan, called for a net 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) high, a 25×50 ft (7.6×15.2 m) court, and any number of players. A match was composed of nine innings with three serves for each team in each inning, and no limit to the number of ball contacts for each team before sending the ball to the opponents’ court. In case of a serving error, a second try was allowed. Hitting the ball into the net was considered a foul (with loss of the point or a side-out)—except in the case of the first-try serve.

After an observer, Alfred Halstead, noticed the volleying nature of the game at its first exhibition match in 1896, played at the International YMCA Training School (now called Springfield College), the game quickly became known as volleyball (it was originally spelled as two words: "volley ball"). Volleyball rules were slightly modified by the International YMCA Training School and the game spread around the country to various YMCAs. (Source: Wikipedia)

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