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Sport in Sri Lanka is a significant part of Sri Lankan culture. Volleyball is the national sport in Sri Lanka. Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka. Rugby union is also popular. Other popular sports are water sports, badminton, athletics, football, basketball and tennis. Sri Lanka's schools and colleges regularly organize sports and athletics teams, competing on provincial and national levels.

The Sri Lanka national cricket team achieved considerable success beginning in the 1990s, rising from the underdog status to winning the 1996 Cricket World Cup. The Sri Lankan national cricket team reached the finals of the 2007 Cricket World Cup, where they lost to Australia at the Kensington Oval, in Bridgetown, Barbados. After qualifying to play in the finals of the 2011 Cricket World Cup, Sri Lanka was beaten by India. The legendary Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan also ended his incredible career at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai which hosted the 2011 World Cup finals. The national cricket team of Sri Lanka has won the Asia Cup in 1986, 1997, 2004 and 2008.

Sri Lanka has a large number of sports stadiums, including Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Stadium & R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Hambantota, Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy, Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium in Dambulla and Galle International Stadium in Galle. The country co-hosted the 1996 Cricket World Cup with India and Pakistan, the 2011 Cricket World Cup with India and Bangladesh and has hosted the Asia Cup tournament on numerous occasions. Water sports such as boating, surfing, swimming and scuba diving on the coast, the beaches and backwaters attract a large number of Sri Lankans and foreign tourists.




Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka. It is one of the ten nations that are full members and take part in test cricket and one of the five nations that has won a Cricket World Cup. Cricket is played at professional, semi-professional and recreational levels in the country and international cricket matches are watched with interest by a large proportion of the population.

Cricket was brought to the island by the British and was first played in the 1800s. The earliest definite mention of cricket in Ceylon was a report in the Colombo Journal on 5 September 1832 which called for the formation of a cricket club. The Colombo Cricket Club was formed soon afterwards and matches began in November 1832. Since then, the sport has grown domestically with major events such as the Premier Trophy (starting 1938) and the Premier Limited Overs Tournament (starting 1988-89).

Sri Lanka's one day international debut came in the 1975 Cricket World Cup and were later awarded Test cricket status in 1981, by the International Cricket Council, which made Sri Lanka the eighth Test cricket playing nation. The Sri Lanka national cricket team transformed themselves from the underdog status to a major cricketing nation during the 1990s. Sri Lanka have won the Cricket World Cup in 1996, the ICC Champions Trophy in 2002 (Co-champions with India) and have been runners up in the 2007 Cricket World Cup and the 2011 Cricket World Cup as well as the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009.

Sri Lanka Cricket, formerly the Board for Cricket Control in Sri Lanka (BCCSL), is the controlling body for cricket in Sri Lanka. It operates the Sri Lanka national cricket team, the Sri Lanka A cricket team, the Sri Lanka national women's cricket team and first-class cricket within Sri Lanka.


Rugby union


Rugby union is mainly played at a semi-professional and recreational level. It is a popular team sport with a history dating back to 1879. The Sri Lankan Rugby Football Union is the governing body in the country. The Sri Lanka national rugby union team was founded in 1908 and joined the IRB in 1988. The first rugby club in Sri Lanka, the Colombo Football Club, was founded in 1879. The first rugby match played between two selected teams occurred on the 30th of June of that year between Colombo and a 'World' Team. The nation's first 'national' match involved an All Ceylon team against the All Blacks.

Sri Lanka is yet to qualify for the Rugby World Cup, however the national team has enjoyed success in recent years, rising to 42 on the world rankings in 2006. Despite not performing well on the international stage, Sri Lanka is sometimes considered one of the rugby's success stories, with crowds of forty or fifty thousand turning out for club games.] In 2010, they made it into the Asian Five Nations main tournament. They currently compete in Division One of the Asian Five Nations.

Sri Lanka also has a national sevens team.

Sri Lanka's problems have been threefold - first, a lack of finance, second, third world infrastructure, and third, the country has been war torn for a number of years.

Sri Lanka hosts the Singer Sri Lankan Airlines Rugby 7's and the Carlton 7’s Sri Lanka, which is a part of the Asian Sevens Series.


Sri Lanka at the Olympics


Sri Lanka first participated at the Olympic Games in 1948, and has sent a delegation to every Summer Olympic Games since then, except for the 1976 Games. Sri Lanka has never participated in the Winter Olympic Games.

Sri Lankan athletes have won a total of two Olympic silver medals, both in athletics.

The National Olympic Committee for Sri Lanka was created in 1937 and recognized by the International Olympic Committee that same year. The nation was designated as Ceylon (country code "CEY") until 1972.




Football is a popular sport in Sri Lanka, and is run by the Football Federation of Sri Lanka. The association administers the Sri Lanka national football team as well as the Sri Lanka Football Premier League.




Netball was first played in Sri Lanka in 1921. The first game was played by Ceylon Girl Guide Company at Kandy High School. The first interschool march was played between Kandy High School and C.M.S. Ladies' College, Colombo in February 1925. In 1927, netball was played at Government Training College for the first time. This helped spread the game around Sri Lanka. The game was being played at Methodist College Colombo and Bishop's College by the 1930s. By 1952, Sri Lankan clubs were playing Indian club sides. In 1956, Sri Lanka played its first international match against Australia's national team in Sri Lanka. In 1972, the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka was created. In 1983, Netball Federation of Sri Lanka was dissolved by the government.

England's record against Ceylon in international matched between 1949 and 1976 was one win.

Sri Lanka took part in the 1960 netball meeting of Commonwealth countries to try to standardize the rules for the game. This meeting took place in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka had a national team compete in the fifth Asian Netball Championships held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2001.

Sri Lanka competed in the 7th Asian Youth Netball Championship held in 2010 in India.

As of January 2011, the women's national team was ranked number fifteen in the world.




Baseball was introduced to Sri Lanka in mid-1980s. The US Embassy to introduced the game to Sri Lanka on the request of former Minister Hon, Festus Perera. Four teams were created to learn about the game, which are Sri Lanka Air force Baseball Club, Shakthi Baseball Club, Gold Fish Baseball Club and Royal College Baseball Club. In the beginning the US Embassy staff played friendly baseball games with the local teams at Havelock Park, Colombo.

Sri Lanka secured a position to compete in the first ever and the team's first ever tournament the Asian Baseball Cup, which was held in the Philippines in 1995. In 2009, the Sri Lanka national baseball team qualified for the 2009 Asian Baseball Championship, the first time in that tournament.




Basketball was first introduced to Sri Lanka in 1917 by American Walter Cammak. Ten years later in 1927, Ananda College was the first school to introduce basketball in Sri Lanka, causing other schools to follow suit. In 1958, the Ceylon Basketball Federation (CBF) was established which was consequently admitted to the FIBA in 1959. Sri Lanka joined the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) in 1962, and have participated in most ABC competitions since.