Sri Lanka High Commissioner Kananathan champions cricket diplomacy in Uganda

Cricket Cranes are bound to get more opportunities. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

Game Changer.  Kananathan’s vision is set to unite two nations through cricket.

In a bustling year for the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA), aptly dubbed the 'World Cup Year,' the organisation's top brass are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to capitalise on the momentum by forging numerous international relations.

Fresh from their bronze medal-winning performance at men’s cricket inaugural staging at the 13th African Games in Accra, reports indicate that the team is gearing up for another stint in Sri Lanka next month, further honing their skills in their well-documented build-up to the 2024 International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 World Cup in the USA and the West Indies.

At the heart of this narrative, which is woven with threads of diplomacy, friendship, and an unwavering passion for a sport that transcends borders, is Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Uganda, Veluppillai Kananathan.

Sport unites

"With genuine collaboration often beginning when individuals understand and engage with one another, sports serves as an ideal channel," remarked Kananathan, his voice resonating with conviction. "Cricket, renowned as a gentleman's game, provides the perfect avenue to foster understanding between our nations."

With a profound understanding of the importance of interpersonal connections, Kananathan sees cricket as the ideal medium to strengthen ties between Uganda and Sri Lanka. "Motivated by this, we have taken the initiative to extend assistance in providing necessary training to enhance the capacity of the national team," he explained. "In my role as the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka and as a resident in Uganda, I am privileged to have facilitated this cooperation, bolstering ties between our countries and promoting mutual understanding through the medium of sport."

Kananathan firmly believes that the partnership holds immense potential for the development and expansion of cricket. "By leveraging the professional logistics and infrastructure available in Sri Lanka, along with the expertise and experience of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board, Ugandan players will have access to high-quality training and coaching," he asserts. "This will not only enhance their skills but also provide them with invaluable exposure to international standards of the game."

Enhancing relations

But Kananathan's commitment doesn’t stop there. As a staunch advocate for sports diplomacy, he has pledged continued support to sustain the partnership, ensuring that funding continues to flow seamlessly. "UCA can indeed expect my ongoing involvement in facilitating Sri Lanka's assistance to sustain this cooperation," he affirmed.

Excitement fills the air as the possibility of reciprocal visits between the two nations looms on the horizon. "The recent journey of the Ugandan team to Sri Lanka marked a significant milestone," Kananathan reflects. "It paved the way for future exchanges that promise to further cement the bond.” And now another camp is on card.

During the 27th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth at Speke Resort Munyonyo from January 3-6, Honorary Consul Kananathan forged a link between UCA and Sri Lanka's Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana. His swift response and influence bore fruit within just a month as Uganda made their maiden trip to Galle for seven T20 matches against Sri Lanka Emerging. Additionally, Uganda is on the cusp of unveiling a collaboration with LycaMobile, chaired by Subaskaran Allirajah – a Sri Lankan.

As Uganda prepares to face formidable opponents like New Zealand, the host-nation West Indies, Afghanistan, and Papua New Guinea in Group C, UCA remains steadfast in its strategic mission to build relationships that will benefit the team beyond the World Cup.


The Top Five

  • Use of cricket as a diplomatic tool
  • Partnership’s potential impact on cricket development
  • Commitment to continued support
  • Reciprocal visits and exchange programs
  • Broader diplomatic implications