Brisbane Roar defender Jack Hingert says the moment he received his call up for the Sri Lankan National Football Team, he wanted to be part it.
The two-time Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s champion was one of several players of foreign origin who joined the closed camp at Qatar’s Aspire Academy in late September.
Hingert, who’s dad was born in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo and still has family in the country, was first approached by Football Sri Lanka to join their national team a couple of years ago. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to those plans due to Australia’s travel restrictions.
So, when they called again, the 32-year-old knew what he wanted to do.
“It was something I wanted to do from the moment that they first contacted me,” Hingert said.
“From the moment they asked me, my dad’s said, ‘you should do it, it’s something the family are going to be really proud of’.
“Since then, I’ve had all my cousins and other family members calling me saying how proud they are and messaging me about it all excited.
“I feel very proud that I got called up and proud that I’ve been part of it,” he added.
Being part of the camp was an exciting experience for the Australian defender, from the outstanding facilities in Doha to meeting his new teammates, who played across Europe, the United States and Sri Lanka.
While Hingert acknowledges there was a small language barrier here and there, it didn’t affect the bond the team formed in a short time.
“That’s the thing about football, there’s different languages but when you’re on the pitch together football is its own language,” he said.
“Even now, since I’ve got back, they’ve been messaging me asking how I am, saying they miss me.
“It’s been great, and it’s something I’m looking forward to doing again in the future.”
While Sri Lanka won’t feature in the upcoming Asian Cup next year, the Federation has been heavily investing in future tournaments and qualifiers already.
Up first is the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championships in July 2023 before 2026 World Cup qualifiers begin in October later that year, with Hingert hoping to be part of the squad.
“Hopefully, we can get a good squad together and achieve something, but I think the main goal for football in Sri Lanka is try get our ranking as high as possible in the next couple of years and go from there,” he said.
“There’s many competitions next year so hopefully I’ll be part of that as well.”
Not only is Hingert excited about the prospect of pulling on the Sri Lankan colour but also being able to re-connect to a country he visited on several occasions as a child.
“Another thing I’ve really enjoyed is re-connecting with my heritage and hopefully in the future when we do get Sri Lanka for games, it gives me a chance to connect with family members and the country as well,” he said.