Looks like dreams come true as Sri Lanka’s top shuttlers have languished for a long time without the prospect of international competition.
Badminton followers know that without a credible International Ranking you cannot get among the World Elite Ranks.
You merely smash, drop and fade away reaching a top rank and sustaining it is an unenviable task.
Only Niluka Karunaratne has come close but we all know that his time has come and he himself is paving the way for the next rung of players including his sibling, Dinuka now based in the UK.
And so Buwaneka, Sachin, Ranthushka and Kavidi will take flight tonight leaving behind Thilini who contacted COVID and had to regrettably withdraw to recuperate and recover before the next tour.
NPTC Chairman Palitha Hettiarachchi will accompany the team as Tour Manager while National Pool Coach Pradeep Welagedara will keep a close eye on the team.
Dinuka will join the team from London while Niluka has also picked a few tournaments in preparation for his showing at the World Championships in Spain, come December.
Dinuka, Buwaneka and Ranthushka are featured in the Men's Singles events while Sachin will partner Buwaneka in the Men's Doubles draw.
Kavidi is therefore the sole woman candidate who will feature in two events, the Women's Singles, Mixed Doubles having had to forego the Women's Doubles due to Thilini’s absence.
Sri Lanka's best bet to improve on ranking appears to be in the Men's Doubles and Women's Doubles, but it is clear to the squad that overall improvement of each ranking is key, if the team is to make our play in future international tournaments.
This is all the more important as Badminton would be a sport in contention at the Commonwealth and Asian Games in 2022.
This contingent is in the vanguard of Sri Lanka's Commonwealth Games and Asian Games quest and thus this tour and a few more to come, are vital to assess our standards on the way forward.
Sri Lanka Badminton has left no stone unturned in this endeavor with the Selection Committee insisting on very specific training and improvement.
Buwaneka and Sachin are Tier 01 HPU players sponsored by the Ministry of Sports while Thilini and Ranthushka have just a few days ago secured long term sponsorships organised by the National Olympic Committee from two corporate organisations, Sun Match and CIC.
Dinuka himself is supported by Sri Lanka Badminton (SLB).
These players are thus expected to garner much needed ranking points from each tournament and fast track their position before long.
This process will be closely monitored and Sri Lanka Badminton President Rohan de Silva himself, who has insisted on this mandate with the NPTC, which is responsible for player performance.
Sports Psychologist Amila Kodikara was at hand to invoke a motivational talk to the players at a reception hosted by the SLB President.
Kodikara prevailed on the concept, what you visualise to happen, can happen, goading the players to focus on that wining mindset as they embark on tour.
The four tournaments are the YONEX Dutch Open 2021, the LiNing Czech Open 2021, the Yonex Belgian International and the 46th Victor FZ Forsa International Championships, creating a circuit where this team will spend four weeks on the trot.
The Ministry of Sports has come out to support this plan with the Director General Amal Edirisooriya himself impressing on the players, the need to stay focused.