Women playing Leading Roles in Sports: Sunethra Senevirathne from IPA Sri Lanka

20 Jul 2021

Please see below an interview from April 2021, featuring the sporting success of IPA Sri Lanka Assistant Secretary General, Sunethra Senevirathne, with kind permission of IPA Sri Lanka and the author, Kasun Irugalbandara from the Sri Lanka Sunday Observer.lkarch1

‘Former archer Sunethra Senevirathne is today an International Archery Judge, the first and only one in the country. She is also the Secretary of the Sri Lanka Archery Association.

Last week the Archery Association conducted a trial at Battaramulla to select archers for the forthcoming Olympics. The Youth Observer met her on the side lines of the selection process.

  1. How did you get involved in this sport?

A: A workshop on archery was conducted at my place of work in 2004 and I participated in it. I was attracted to the sport and got involved in it. That is the beginning of the relationship between this sport and myself. I became an archer and continue this sport too.


  1. But today you are not a player, but an international archery referee, and the first in Sri Lanka. Isn't that so?

A: Yes. I am the first international archery judge in the country. It is a remarkable milestone personally for me and the game in our country.


  1. How did you become an international referee? Could you describe the path?

A: At the South Asian Games in 2006 I had the chance to enter the judging panel. The Archery Federation conducted a workshop under an Indian archery judge. I thought to myself that was the time to change my path and become an international judge. That is how my path changed.


  1. How did you enter the judging panel in the international arena?

A: After I completed the workshop, I was trying to find a way to obtain qualifications to become an international judge. Then I got to know that one had to pass the International Judging Examination to become an international judge. At that time there was a judges seminar and international examination in Taiwan, and I decided to participate in it. That was the first step of my path to become an international judge.


  1. Did the Archery Federation of Sri Lanka sponsor you for the international examination?

A: I represented the Sri Lanka Archery Association. But they never paid any money for my expenses. I had to bear the cost for this seminar in Taiwan personally.


  1. What was your experience in Taiwan? Was the examination easy?

A: It was the toughest examination that I had ever faced. My colleagues who I met in Taiwan helped me to study for the examination. I was the only candidate without laptop and multimedia equipment. Due to this I was nervous, but my colleagues came forward to help me. We studied throughout the night up to the day of the examination. Finally, I passed it and became a continental judge in Asia. That was my first victory on my path to become a member of the international judging panel.

  1. Were you the only person from Sri Lanka at the examinations?

A: No there was another Sri Lankan. Around 60 candidates faced the examination, but only 18 were passed.


  1. So in 2008 you became a continental judge. What was the first international tournament you judged in the Asian region?

A: The 5th Asian Grand Prix Archery Tournament in Bangladesh was my first international meet. I went there at my own expenses and became the first Sri Lankan judge to referee an international tournament. I will never forget that day.


  1. How did you reach the next level?

A: If a judge completed the judging assignment in a continental competition well, then he or she was recognised as a qualified judge in the world arena. I had an ambition to go to the world stage as a judge one day; that was the path of my judging journey in archery.


  1. So you gave up your role as an archer after you became a judge?

A: No, in 2008 I represented the country as an archer. I participated in the Asian Archery Championship held in Myanmar. I also represented the country at the South Asian Games in 2016.


  1. Didn't you think it is unethical to be a player as well as a judge?

A: At one time, it did not deeply concern me. In the South Asian region, we can compete as players. But in Asia or in a world competition it is not ethical to take part as a player. Due to this I thought of retiring as a player. The chairman of the international judges’ panel also advised to give up being a player. However, I love to take part as a player.


  1. We heard that you had passed another international examination in judging after 2008. What was it?

A: Yes, it was held in Thailand in 2010. Then I was recognised as a full international judge. I was lucky to be a judge at the World Cup finals in Turkey; the highlight was being selected to judge the archery finals. I was a member of the three-judge panel.


  1. How did you achieve success easily?

A: No. It was never easy. World level competitions are live streamed demoted. Judges are rated once in three months. The judge committee sends us a case study question paper. If you did not perform well at your last competition, then too your ratings go down.But I try to do my best as a judge every time and it has helped to build my image in the international arena. Every four years we have to sit an international judging accreditation test. It is an open book examination, but we must get over 95 percent marks to pass the examination.


  1. That examination is like our grade five scholarship examination.

A: Exactly. If we want to continue our career, we must score high marks. I got 99 and 98 at these examinations in the past. That was one of the reasons for my success.


  1. You have succeeded in the international arena which means that women can succeed anywhere. Is it equality of gender?

A: Gender is not a barrier to find success in our life's journey. If you have real inspiration to fulfil your tasks you must try to walk step by step on that path. Then you will meet success. My family, especially my husband, is behind me and my workplace backs me every time to overcome challenges. So I like to tell other women to come forward and fulfil your dreams. You have plenty of opportunities in the world. I am one example for you.’

Interviewed by: Kasun Irugalbandara, Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka)