Loving being underwater – Michael Gunawardena
Michael J.A. Gunawardena is a 10-year-old student from S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia who simply loves being underwater and engaging in nature-related activities. This is the very reason why he decided to take up underwater hockey, a globally played game invented in the 1950s by the British. The sport, however, is quite new to Sri Lanka. This week, Michael shared his underwater hockey experience so far with The Sunday Morning Little Stars.
Michael, why don’t you start by telling us more about yourself?
Well, I am still a 10-yearold kid schooling at S. Thomas’ College in Mount Lavinia. I study in grade five. I love outdoor activities and engaging in sports. My hobbies are snorkelling, LEGO Technic construction, and playing chess. I occupy myself with karate, swimming, and cub scouting. Apart from that, I am also an active member of the Junior Environmental Club. I play football with my friends, mostly for fun.
How has your experience participating in underwater hockey (UWH) been so far?
We are really lucky that UWH is currently only practised at STC at school level. Our coach is Yohan Abeysekera. The game includes six players in a team and four reserve players. The ability to hold our breath underwater is very important in this game because UWH takes place entirely below the surface of the water. The sport is not really new; it was created to keep divers active during off season.
LEGO construction sounds like an interesting hobby. What’s the most complicated thing you built using LEGO?
I construct robots and vehicles, and then I programme them to work by themselves. Although interesting, the suspension system of a vehicle is complicated and I don’t have all the parts to build one.
At which stage are you in terms of snorkelling and scuba diving?
I am still undergoing my B and C tests. I am not yet a fully fledged snorkeler, but I am learning fast. I can’t wait to do my open water snorkel.
What is the most beautiful view you have seen underwater?
Well, to answer this, I will have to wait for my first open water snorkel dive, which I hope will happen very soon.
Since when have you been doing cub scouting?
Currently, I am a Silver Star Cub and the seconder of my pack. I am doing my badge work for my gold star, which I will receive when I am 11 years old.
What qualities do you improve by being a cub scout?
It encourages me to be a better person, helpful to others, and be of service to my country as a whole. Also, cub scouting helps me in motivation, communication, leadership, time management, problem solving, teamwork, and confidence.
Tell us about your achievements and talents.
I am a yellow belter in karate and I can swim 100 lengths nonstop.
Out of all the sports, what is your favourite and why?
I love scuba diving! I just love to be underwater.
You said you love outdoor activities. Is that why you joined the Junior Environmental Club?
Yes, I think that is the reason. We study about the environment and various animals. As members, we go on outings to observe nature. We get to observe how wonderful nature is. And I get really angry and sad when I see people polluting the ocean and rivers with plastic and other junk.
What is your ambition?
I am still 10 years old, so I don’t have one in particular. But I’d like to go to another planet.
Finally, who supports you in all your endeavours?
I must thank my parents, school teachers, and sports instructors. They are my pillars of strength.
Photo Pradeep Dambarage