Netball in Kandy is in the process of receiving a boost and the intention behind these efforts is to bring it back to where it was. There are positive signs in this regard and the effort is being spearheaded by one time Kandy’s Chief Provincial Councillor Shanthini Kongahage. She is going all out to put netball back in the limelight. Her efforts are appreciated by all sports- loving ladies in Kandy. Sport has always played a major role in the lives of people in Kandy. Despite the limited facilities, Kandy has continuously produced some of the best netball players.
Netball too has a long history in Kandy. Now this sport is doing well at school and club level in Kandy. These authorities are all-out to promote the game here in Kandy. The people involved in these endeavours are definitely on the right path. It seems fortunes will fluctuate when it comes to netball in Kandy.
This writer can remember the times when P.T.M. Kumarihamy was attached to the Ministry of Sports. Along with many school teachers she promoted the game. Some of those stalwarts who were involved with the game then were Sudarma Amarasinghe Perera (of Seethadevi BMV who was also a former Sri Lanka junior netballer), I.R. Tissera (Mahamaya College coach, Manjula Jayasinghe, (St. Anthony’s Convent) and Aruni Hemakumari (Hillwood College). They gave the sport a big hand.
It has been suggested that the Kandy Netball Association should get-together and organize a tournament among schools and clubs in the region. It is also expected that the Education Department will chip in and give a helping hand. Kandy schools have a rich history in the sport of netball, having played the game much earlier than others. Hillwood College, which was founded in 1889 by the Church of England, gave pride of place to netball. In 1921 this institute became the second school to play the sport. It is interesting to note that keeping with tradition the girls played the game in Kandyan saree. In 1947 the saree clad Hillwood netball team emerged as the champions in the Central Province.
Kandy Girls High School is the result of a suggestion made in 1873 that a popular school be established in Kandy. The Rev. S. Langdon took the initiative and in 1879 a tiny school was opened in Katukelle. The school became the first to play netball in Kandy in 1920.
Later Mahamaya Girls College started in the 1930s. This school took up the game in a big way. In latter years Good Shepherd Convent, St. Anthony’s Convent, Pushpadana Girls’ College and in recent times Seethadevi, Swarnamali and Hemamali have taken up to the game and produced good teams. There are many international schools too, playing the game.