December 21, 2012
The construction of the first ever baseball ground in Sri Lanka has been completed, and is scheduled to be ceremonially opened by His Excellency the President Mr Mahinda Rajapakse on 23rd December 2012. This baseball ground was built at a cost of 21.2 million Japanese yen (approximately Rs. 33.5 million), which was funded under the Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects of Japan, together with funds received from groups in Japan that have come forward to assist the development of baseball in Sri Lanka, through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). A part of the opening ceremony would be an exhibition baseball match that would be played between the Kanagawa High School Baseball Federation Team from Japan, and the Sri Lanka under 19 national team.
With the establishment of this baseball ground within the premises of the Mahinda Rajapakse International Sports Complex in Diyagama, it has become possible for local baseball players to practice and play on a proper baseball ground for the first time in Sri Lanka. It has also made it possible for the country to host international baseball tournaments in future. The project would help in further developing and popularizing baseball in Sri Lanka, and would be a great asset for the country's youth.
This is not the first time Japan has provided assistance for the development of baseball in Sri Lanka. Since 2002, four volunteer baseball coaches were dispatched to the Sri Lanka Amateur Baseball/Softball Association (SLABSA), under JICA's Volunteer Dispatch Programme. As a result, teams representing the country have obtained better results in the international arena, and enabled Sri Lanka to rank 32nd amongst 72 countries in 2011. Having being trained by the baseball coaches provided by JICA, the country's national teams won many medals in Asian Baseball Championships including the bronze medal at the Asia Cup 2009. The contribution made by JICA volunteers could be considered significant, since Sri Lanka's international standing in the sphere of baseball has seen a tremendous improvement, from a state of little recognition in 2002, to what it is now. The efforts made by SLABSA and the Ministry of Sports with the help of JICA volunteer coaches, seem to have borne much result during a short period. The establishment of the new baseball ground would undoubtedly complement these achievements by providing the required facilities for local teams to further excel in the international arena.
For more information: https://www.jica.go.jp/english/our_work/types_of_assistance/citizen/volunteers.html