The Words of the Senaratne Family

Sri Lanka, Gets An Inter-Cultural Peace Sports Centre

Chula Senaratne, IPSF
August 9, 2006
Tangalle, Sri Lanka

Mr. Namal Rajapksa, Mr. Deitmar Doering (CEO AGSEP), Mr. Janaka Sri Warnasinghe (National Organiser Aspiring Youth/ RYS Alumni), Dr. Chula Senaratne (National Director IPSF), Miss. Dinesha Liyanasuriya, Mr. Thakshila Hettiarachchy, Mr. Earnie Fernando of IPSF/RYS; in a group photo with German students.

Since 1992, the Religious Youth Service (RYS) has been active in promoting peace in Sri Lanka through its inter-religious program of service and leadership training. Working to build trust and cooperation between both the Sinhalese and Tamil ethnic groups the RYS draws its participants from various nations and from all parts of Sri Lanka. The Inter-religious Peace Sports Festival (IPSF) has been active in Sri Lanka as a global program working to build peaceful relations between athletes of each religion through the medium of sport. Since it began in 2003 hundreds of athletes, coaches and cultural performers from Sri Lanka have invested themselves in this peace initiative. Both the RYS and the IPSF are projects of the UPF/IIFWP.

In 2005, following the disaster of the December 26th tsunami, the RYS and IPSF alumni linked together with the Asian German Sports Exchange Programme (AGSEP) to build a community center in Tangalle and area hard by the tsunami. This cooperation has grown and now with additional local support an inter cultral peace sports center is being built. This a forward thinking program that is aimed at creating the positive environment from which peace and healthy lifestyles can thrive.

The 'Aspiring Youth' youth organization presided by Namal Rajapaksa, the eldest son of President of Sri Lanka HE Mahinda Rajapaksa, together with the Inter-religious Peace Sports Festival (IPSF) and Asian German Sports Exchange Programme (AGSEP) will set up an Intercultural Peace Sports and Recreational Centre in Tangalle. The estimated cost of the initial buildings including a standard swimming pool would be around $250,000. This would be a tsunami project and major portion of funds will be raised by the AGSEP members and from well wishers in Europe.

Already, there are two similar Sports and recreational centers in Nattandiya (Western, Sri Lanka) and Mullativu (Northern, Sri Lanka), which are in function at the moment. Sports Centers in Neelaveli, of Trincomalee district (Eastern, Sri Lanka) is still under construction. The proposed centre in Tangalle would be the Southern centre. All these cities were destroyed by the devastating "tsunami" waves on December 24 2004 without any preference whether it is North, East west or South.

The main aims of this centre are a long term plan for supporting the peace process in Sri Lanka since the children could learn about the culture of the other communities. It is important to start the peace process from grassroot level, enabling children to be in contact with children from different communities.

After the tsunami most children developed fear of water. The swimming pool could be used for the children to learn swimming and get into competitions and compete on behalf of the district they represent.

An Indoor Stadium consisting of badminton, table tennis, basketball, volleyball and soccer field, and Adventure Playground will also be added to this centre. Hostel facilities to accommodate children will also be put up.

The children would be trained at this Sports Centre and there would also be home sports competitions among the Intercultural Sports Centers around Sri Lanka. The best among them would be further trained, in order for them to compete at National Level. By providing these sports facilities, it will be helpful in improving the moral standards of the children; thereby creating some good athletes.

RYS/IPSF alumnae in Sri Lanka are taking a major role in this project where they would be promoting the ideology of Inter-religious Peace Sports Festival & Religious Youth Service, and working to achieve permanent peace in Sri Lanka to end the 25 year civil war of this country which has ruined this beautiful island nation since.

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