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Sports can bring about peace and prosperity, says President

The 34th National Sports Festival commenced yesterday with a colourful ceremony at the D.A. Rajapaksa Stadium with President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the chief guest.

President Rajapaksa arrived sharp on time to open the new 50m. swimming pool at the Beliatta Technical College which was a long felt need for the Southern Province. The work on the project which commenced in 2004 saw the completion today with the fullest co-operation coming from the Minister of Sports and Public Recreation Gamini Lokuge.

Earlier these sports were confined only to suburban areas. My vision was to have complexes in every district. But according to the situation we hope to have one in each Province. Already we have plans to have a swimming complex in the Eastern Province for which development programmes have already commenced.

The President noted that it was a pleasant and a proud moment to see competitors from all nine Provinces participating after nearly three decades. Sports can bring about peace and prosperity to the country. Once people get involved in sports no one considers about caste, creed or colour. That is why I believe that sports is a must for everyone in our country.

Sports is done to achieve success but all canít achieve same. But when they are with sports everyone will watch it and encourage them.

This helps sportsmen and women to win at Secretariat level, District level. Finally they reach national level to go up to international standards.

Many who came up to this level have brought honour to Sri Lanka. Most of the winners have come from outstations.

In this respect Southern Province has a good record behind them producing world class sport stars who have also set up many world records.

They have achieved these through their determination and dedication. While they perform these world class acts the Lankans encourage them immensely which also helps the younger generation to get involved in sports.

Last year we wanted this sports festival to be held here but the weather conditions deterred them from doing the same, this year we have achieved it. It is a blessing for the people of Southern Province to witness a mega event of this nature.

I hope the people of South will definitely take steps to promote sports in the Province by encouraging the young ones to indulge in sports for a better future.

The President also said that the officials have done a fine job in organising the festival in the Southern Province, with the country hoping to achieve peace in the very near future. With the Forces fighting a great battle.

I intend to take this mega national event to the Northern Province with great successes the Forces have achieved in these areas. People in the North and East have shown great enthusiasm to compete with the other parts of the country. That is why they have travelled all the way from North and East to the South. We Lankans are proud of this situation, said the President.

The President declared opened the games officially.

Minister Lokuge thanked the President for his presence on this great day. He said that the President took great care of the organisational matters which brought us success.

Without his co-operation we could never have great event conducted here on a stadium built to accommodate all events on a grand-scale.

The stadium which is named after Presidentís father D.A. Rajapaksa is redeveloped to suit the occasion, said the Minister. He paid a glowing tribute to all Parliamentarians, Provincial Councillors and other officials of the SPC for the dedication to hold this event on a grand scale.

Sandhya Jayasuriya, a double international (Netball and Volleyball) from the Southern Province and Chintaka de Zoysa, another Southerner who was a top class sprinter during his hay day and also the Sri Lanka record holder for 100m, lit the Olympic Torch.

Nadeeka Lakmalee, the athlete who qualified to represent the country at the forthcoming Beijing Olympic took the oath on behalf of the competitors while A.T. Nugegoda read the oath on behalf of the officials.

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