Gateway Netball Stars, Aneesha and Vishmika
By Radha Wimalawansa
The Asian Youth Netball Tournament concluded on 7th July at Kashima, Japan with the Sri Lankan youth netball squad securing the third place in the tournament. Aneesha Perera and Vishmika Ratnayake from Gateway College, Colombo were the first international school players to represent the Sri Lankan Youth Netball squad.
Here’s an interview with Aneesha, one of the two Gateway netball stars, in which she shares their experience at the tournament and many more.
Would you like to first take us through the series of matches you played at the tournament?
"We played with all the teams in our group. We won the matches against Nepal, Korea and Thailand but unfortunately, lost a match to Singapore by a narrow margin. We were ranked second in our group and we got into the semi-finals in which we played against Malaysia, the defending champions. However, we lost that match. Our last game was against Hong Kong, and we were able to win that game becoming the second runners-up in the tournament. By the end of the day, Sri Lanka got selected to participate in the World Youth Netball Championships in Fiji in 2021."
Is the Asian Youth Netball Tournament Aneesha’s first international game?
"My first international netball experience was the Pastabole Netball Tournament in Malaysia in 2017 which involved netball clubs from Sri Lanka and Malaysia. However, this is the first time I’ve played in a tournament of this caliber against some of the best Asian youth teams. The experience was definitely worthwhile since we got exposure on how to conduct ourselves during international tournaments under pressure. I also learnt a lot about the game and different strategies employed by different teams. This tournament was the first time I got to represent my country. Therefore, the tournament has a special place in my heart."
How were you and Vishmika selected to the Sri Lankan team? What was the process like?
"Our coach at Gateway College, Ms. Yamuna Sandamali asked us to go for the National Youth Netball selections, and we were thrilled. I’ve always wanted to get selected to the national team and play for the country. There were many rounds of selections spanning over many months and finally a 30-member pool was selected. The selection process was very intense and competitive as there were many talented players from all over the country. Finally, after weeks of practice, the pool was narrowed down to 12 players."
How was it working with different schools?
"Initially, it was not easy to mingle with everyone due to our very different backgrounds. Anyway, during practices and during the tournament, we spent loads of time together, so we learnt about each other and from each other. We had an amazing experience together. It was very sad when we had to say our goodbyes at the end of the tournament."
Got any noteworthy memorable moments of the tournament?
"Well, I got a caution and a warning for my contacts from the referees during the match against Thailand. I don’t think I’d ever forget that!"
Would you like to recall some interesting and memorable moments of your team’s practice sessions?
Read more of our interview with Aneesha and Vishmika in Issue 51 of Chokolaate Magazine in stores and online now!