Sixteen teams, including two from Jaffna, have entered the fray to contest the second EFLI Sri Lanka University Flag Football League on June 27 and 28 at the CR and FC ground Longden Place in Colombo.
The tournament is a version of American Football and will be played for the SAGT (South Asian Gateway Terminals) Trophy.
The teams contesting are University of Peradeniya, Rajarata University, Kotalawela Defence Academy (KDA), Sabaragamuwa University, Jaffna Warriors, Jaffna Eagles, National School of Business Management (NSBM), Informatics Institute of Technology, National Institute of Business Management (NIBM), Institute of Management and the Business Management School (BMS).
The universities of Peradeniya and Rajarata, KDA, NSBM and NIMB have entered two teams.
Tournament Director, the former Sri Lanka rugby fly-half and referee Dilroy Fernando said the event had all the makings to pave the way for a new form of sporting entertainment in the country with sponsor South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT) realizing the stakes in it.
“We are thinking long term”, said Fernando at the tournament’s draw and launch at the CR and FC club on Wednesday. “We had more teams wanting to contest but we had to keep it to 16. Our aim is to popularise this sport in Sri Lanka by introducing it to the universities in all the provinces and then move on to the schools”.
Fernando said he was skeptical at the start when an Indian promoter persuaded to him to be part of the American Football fraternity but subsequently changed his mind when he realized the sport had plenty of appeal for the youth.
The 16 teams will vie for the Cup, Bowl and Plate.
The championship will be followed by a full-gear tackling tournament featuring three teams from Colombo, Kandy and Jaffna in September with equipment provided by the League.
“We want all sports lovers to be part of this University Flag Football League and witness a sport that will change the landscape of athletics forever”, said Fernando.
Ted Muttiah the Chief Commercial Officer of SAGT which is one of three operators in the Port of Colombo said they were looking forward to a high profile partnership with the EFLI.
“American football and flag rugby is associated with agility, speed, explosive strength, resilience and adaptability. We at SAGT understand these hallmarks to deliver the best”, said Muttiah at the event’s launch.
The inaugural tournament in 2012 had only eight teams from India, Pakistan and host Sri Lanka.