by Rahal Wijewardena
The waves crashing on the shore, the sand glistening, the Jet Ski engines whirring and the crowd bustling the sunny shores of the Negombo Beach at the Jetwing Blue was the perfect setting for a fantastic day of competitive beach games and absolute fun.
With the presence of three time Olympic gold medalist Hungarian Water Polo Player, Gergely Kiss, the mood was set for a fierce day of sports to impress the well decorated Olympian. What was truly remarkable about this event was that, it wasn’t only the First Beach Games Festival in South Asia of this magnitude, but it was also the first time that Beach Water Polo was played in Sri Lanka. It was truly exhilarating to see the players battling the waves as they hurled the ball between the two nets in the middle of the ocean.
There were over 60 teams participating in the games, from Beach Rugby to Beach Frisbee they had them all. Beach Football and Beach Handball seemed to be two hotspots for spectators because of how intense the game would get. These games weren’t just for fun, these players were in it to win it. With classic beach sports like Beach Volleyball, competition was fierce with the crowd in immense applause each time either SLA (Sri Lanka Army) or SLAF (Sri Lanka Air Force), the finalists, scored on each other.
With the organisers and volunteers running monitoring all of the games and ensuring things ran smoothly the entire event ran like clockwork. Though it got gloomy towards the midpoint of the day, the light drizzle and grey skies didn’t stop any of the fun. It was truly a remarkable event and was the first step towards truly vitalizing the beautiful beaches that Sri Lanka has and getting young sportsmen and women to start getting interested in beach sports with special attention to the newly adopted Beach Water Polo.