Today was a symbolic day for Sri Lankan football. As the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) was celebrating its 75th anniversary, FIFA President Blatter inaugurated a technical centre in Jaffna as part of a special programme for war-affected areas in the northern part of the island.
Renowned for its beauty, the teardrop shaped island off the Indian Ocean has been ravaged by civil war and the devastating 2004 Tsunami. The 25 year long conflict ended in 2009 and since then the country has focused on reconstruction. "I’m very pleased to see that football, and FIFA, can contribute to the recovery of this country”, said President Blatter on the occasion of the inauguration of the training center in Jaffna, one of the cities most affected during the civil war. “Football brings hope to people. This training centre provides a fantastic infrastructure for the youth of this region”, he added.
The project in Jaffna was funded through FIFA’s Goal programme. In addition, FIFA supported the post-Tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka with 11 projects now operational in different areas. The FFSL has also recently joined FIFA’s Performance Programme, which provides member associations with the tools and structure to ensure their own growth, and will benefit from a project for less privileged associations in the form of an artificial turf at Pediris Park in the capital city Colombo.
Another important initiative has been the implementation of FIFA "11 for Health", a programme which educates girls and boys in healthy behaviour and how to avoid diseases. Sri Lanka is one of the first countries in Asia to join this programme.
Before flying to Jaffna, Blatter met with the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse. He used the occasion to thank the Government for the support it has extended to football in the country and stress the importance of integrating the sport in school activities.
This special day for Sri Lankan football culminated with a banquet for the 75th anniversary of the FFSL which was attended by a number of special guests from the football community, including AFC President Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Kalifa as well as presidents of other Asian member associations. The banquet saw the unveiling of the 75th anniversary logo and the launch of a brand new Sri Lankan national football team jersey.