Sri Lanka will grow Touch through the school system
Dec. 10, 2019 @ 7:45 UTC
Sri Lanka is the latest Asian country to affiliate with FIT.
Ayo Abeyaratne, of Sri Lanka Touch Association, attended the recent FIT Member Workshop in Paris, has said his association is pursuing “a bottom-up approach” to growing Touch in the cricket-obsessed country.
“We will be approaching schools and rugby academies to grow our game and ensure we are sustainable long-term,” Ayo explained. “By starting in the schools, we will provide Sri Lankan children with access to the same pathways offered by cricket and rugby.
“By taking this approach, we can grow the acceptance of Touch as a genuine sporting alternative in Sri Lanka, while participation numbers will grow as our players mature into teenagers and adults.”
Ayo added, “It would be fantastic if Touch enjoyed the same profile as cricket and rugby in Sri Lanka.
“Domestically, rugby has made inroads into the hearts and minds of the Sri Lankan community and is attracting better crowds and sponsorship. We are hopeful that Touch can replicate this level of expansionary success.”
FIT’s newest member also plans to collaborate closely with Touch Rugby Federation of India and Pakistan Touch Rugby Federation. “We have also been talking with Touch Football Pilipinas and are looking forward to attending the Asian Touch Cup in Shanghai next year,” Ayo confirmed.
With a population of 21.4 million, which is similar to Australia, Sri Lanka is capable of sustaining a healthy Touch participation base, according to Bill Ker, Secretary-General of FIT.
“We are thrilled that Sri Lanka has joined its subcontinental neighbours India and Pakistan as FIT members. Between the three countries, there are close to 1.7 billion people, and this massive population base has the potential to fast-track the growth of Touch globally.
“The more interest we have in Touch on the subcontinent, the more access to players this gives us and potential partnership opportunities to grow our sport.”
Touch began its expansion into the subcontinent about a decade ago, and the game’s speed and need for agility are proving a significant attraction for participants from Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, Bill explained.
“Our game is all about skill, and this appeals to our growing legion of players from Asia.”
FIT has confirmed Shanghai, China, as the host city for the inaugural Asian Touch Cup in October 2020.
The tournament will be played 16-18 October 2020 at the magnificent Shanghai Tan Sports Public Park, where the annual Shanghai International Touch Tournament (SITT) is played.
The Asian Cup will attract national men’s, women’s and mixed teams from across Asia, including new FIT member Sri Lanka.