Sri Lanka boasts a lively and unique sports fandom that’s both influenced by its colonial history and the landscape. So, there’s an incredible array of popular activities to be enjoyed; from cricket, rugby union, and football, to the likes of beach volleyball, surfing, and kabaddi. While the nation is most-famed for its generations of world-class cricketers, with such a range of popular sports, the National Sports Council has a tremendous amount to oversee.
Now, the organization chaired by Mahela Jayawardene has laid out a new, long-term plan to further develop the nation’s sports, as well as explore ways to make the country a hub of sport-ainment – a portmanteau of sports and entertainment. The National Sports Council has laid down the gauntlet with its new roadmap, but reaching its final goals of being a global venue of Sri Lanka’s main sports will take a lot more than a focus on sports.
Plans to transform Sri Lanka’s sports industry
One of the goals of the National Sports Council’s roadmap is to improve the background structure of sports in the country. This entails numerous infrastructure projects, the creation of a center for sports science, the implementation of a national high-performance strategy, and spreading the sports budget. Also included in the plans is the establishment of a national sports calendar, which is intended to see the Ministry of Sports host a sport-ainment event each month, reaping the benefits of media rights.
Seeking a boom in sports tourism, Sri Lanka will become a hub for its franchise events as well as a point of interest for other activities and some more leisurely sports. Top of the bill are the six franchise leagues of kabaddi, international rugby sevens, the Super Ceylon Soccer League, the Lanka Premier League, beach netball, and beach volleyball. Around them, the Surfing World Series, Colombo Marathon, and Tour de Ceylon are seen as key events for national athletes to showcase their ability.
This is all part of a long-term plan, with the work behind the scenes and structuring of the sporting events naturally taking time to organize and implement. The idea is that, while sports development improves in the background, the calendar will offer a way for each of the nation’s biggest sports to receive maximum exposure and maximum media rights potential.
Interestingly, Sri Lanka also sees the potential and appeal of eSports. The National Sports Council has included it as one of four key pillars for the nation to build into, alongside the far more general pillars of competitive sports, leisure sports, and sports economy. Creating infrastructure for all of the sports, both on the development side and for the fans on days of the events, will underpin the success of these plans, with the latter being one of the more expansive areas needing to be looked at beyond the oversight of the Council and Ministry.
Building around the future Sri Lanka sports industry
While the governing bodies of sports can put forward several ambitious, but certainly well-conceived plans, all major events require assistance from other industry heads and can benefit from such symbiotic workings. When it comes to the sports day and sports fan experience, many enjoy partaking in betting to try to call the outcomes of individual matches, whole tournaments, and all of the smaller events that can take place from start to finish.
The iGaming industry has evolved tremendously over the last decade, with several platforms combining sports betting with casino gaming. This practice has even expanded to the Arabian betting scene, where online gambling is still quite a new concept, but sites offer everything from established industries, including sports wagering bonuses for new players. The bonuses allow new account holders to claim deposit bonuses or free bets so that they have extra funds to try out the service and activity for signing up.
So, even in places where sports betting isn’t as prevalent, platforms are willing to enter with their very best offering from day one, with the welcome bonuses enhancing accessibility for new players. Due to its popularity, most nations benefit from taxing betting companies, and then pump that income into national projects, such as sports infrastructure. In the UK, online operators pay 15 percent tax on profits, with online gross gambling yield in the last year of recording clocking in at £5.7 billion (රු1565 billion).
A prime example to look to for the sudden needs of a nation looking to host major sports events is Qatar. When the tiny nation hosted the Club World Cup last year, in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, two of the more notable points on the experience were that the public transport available was very simple and cheap, but that there was very little to do outside of the game itself. In Sri Lanka, it’d be fair to say that the opposite is true: there’s so much to explore in cities like Colombo, but travel outside of the major lines and inter-city expresses can be troublesome for tourists to navigate.
The development plans put forward look strong, and the sports industry of Sri Lanka will surely benefit from the implementation of each phase. Should they succeed and the nation does become a hub of sport-ainment, there’ll be further expansions and intricacies to consider.