Sri Lanka’s Sivalingam shooting for great heights

At almost seven feet tall, Tharjini Sivalingam is hard to miss in the shooting circle.

She’s not only the tallest player to take part in the Netball World Cup 2023 (NWC2023) in Cape Town but is also the tallest person in her hometown in Sri Lanka.

While the goal shooter admits her height has been an advantage on the netball court, it has certainly not been so in regular life.

“Rather disadvantages. I would say there are a lot of challenges in my life and day-to-day activities,” she explained.

“In netball, of course, height is always an advantage which cannot be denied by anyone. I have been playing goal shooter always, I have perfect coordination with my girls – using both height and coordination from my teammates, I could make more goals in every match,” she added.

While her team finished in 15 th place at the Netball World Cup 2019 in Liverpool, Sivalingam emerged as the tournament’s top shooter, netting 348 goals in her seven matches.

She was also the top goal-scorer at the 2011 tournament in Singapore and hopes to do the same at the NWC2023 in Cape Town, which gets under way this Friday.

“I am humble about those achievements,” said Sivalingam.

“As I always say, it’s a team sport and all credit should be equally shared among the players. Therefore, I am really proud of my team for those achievements. I am pretty confident with my team and we hope to repeat the show again with better achievement.”

At 44 years old, Sivalingam has confirmed this will be her last appearance at a Netball World Cup. It’s been a remarkable journey after growing up in war-torn Sri Lanka as the fifth of six siblings and only learning to play netball while studying economics at university.

“Before university, I did only high jump at school level,” she explained.

“Since I was born and grew up in the war in Sri Lanka, I could not really enjoy competitive sports in my childhood. I started my netball career at my university… from there I was identified based on my height and flexibility to the national practices.

“That’s how I entered Sri Lanka Netball in 2008.”

Sivalingam has certainly made up for lost time and became the first netball player from her country to play professionally when she was recruited to Australia’s state netball league as part of Victoria’s City West Falcons side.

“Netball brings people together and every day I build up a very good network locally and internationally,” she said.

“I have earned a lot of fans who have been always encouraging and motivating me in my every step. Also, whenever I play for my nation, that gives me extra energy.

“Since this is my last World Cup and last international tour representing Mother Sri Lanka I cannot say a lot, but simply thanks for all the love, to each and every one.”

As for still managing to play at international level well into her 40s, Sivalingam reckoned: “Thank God, I have good health and stamina to play.

“Since I have seen many struggles from childhood, I can strive hard for anything – with that motivation, I always think positively and keep playing as long as possible.”

Sri Lanka have been grouped together with Jamaica, hosts South Africa and Wales for the preliminary round of matches. They play Jamaica on Friday before taking on South Africa on Saturday and Wales on Sunday.

“Our team is well set and the players have good motivation and are excited to play the World Cup. We are looking forward to showing our best as always,” said Sivalingam.

“We have a good team spirit, coordination and confidence within us. We hope for the best results in every quarter of each match.”

The NWC2023 takes place from 28 th July to 6 th August at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Details on tickets and travel packages and more information on the NWC2023 are all available on the official tournament website ( with a range of tickets and packages still on offer.