Hasalaka agog as Bandaranayake M.V. takes to rugby football
Play rugby football ... This seems to be what General Anuruddha
Ratwatte (right) is telling the teacher-in-charge Miss H. M.
Dunethra Kumari of Bandaranayake M. V. Hasalaka as he presents a
rugby ball on the occasion of introducing the game to the
school. Also present at the occasion was Maurice Perera -
Chairman Rugby Development of CPRFU, Iswan Omar - President
CPRFU and Leslie de Zoysa.
Pictures by S. M. Jiffrey Abdeen - Kandy Sports Cor.
RUGBY: Kandy District Sports Development Foundation under the
leadership of former Minister of Power and Energy and Deputy Minister of
Defence General Anuruddha Ratwatte, took a giant step forward in the
promotion of elite sports among the rural children and those living off
the beaten track, when they conducted the first ever rugby coaching camp
for school children in the distant Hasalaka (near Mahiyangana) at the
Bandaranayake Maha Vidyalaya grounds in Hasalaka recently.
Kandy District Sports Development Foundation of course had the
support and assistance of the Central Province Rugby Football Union and
the team which made this historic trip included General Anuruddha
Ratwatte (Chairman), Iswan Omar (President CPRFU), former All-Ceylon
ruggerite Maurice Perera (Chairman - Rugby Development CPRFU), former
All-Ceylon and Kandy SC ruggerite Gamini Udugama (Rugby Development
Chief Officer CPRFU), Chanuka Ratwatte and the Technical Officers from
General Anuruddha Ratwatte speaking to the media said that the
objective behind this maiden rugby coaching camp was with the ‘eye for
the future’ as the officials will be introducing a contact game to the
rural area and it may one day serve as a nursery in the future. He said
that they will also give the rural children an opportunity to play rugby
which was once considered as a game of the elite schools.
In every sense of the word it will be ‘Kreedawa Gamata” he concluded.
Chairman Rugby Development of CPRFU Maurice Perera who counts over fifty
years experience in the game of rugby both as a player, coach an
administrator, said that the initial step taken was to draw up a plan to
introduce the game and thereafter an organised development plan will be
This is indeed commendable that Hasalaka had not seen rugby before
and the children had never seen the oval-shaped ball, which after
bouncing moves in an unpredictable manner unlike the round shaped
football which they are used to.
At the opening ceremony, General Anuruddha Ratwatte in his address to
the large gathering said that when he was the Minister of Power and
Energy, he visited this area to provide electricity to the rural areas.
That day when the was driving to Hasalaka he was happy to see a TV
antenna in every house which was an indication that this village had
gone to the next step of development.
On a evaluation done at that time, it was evident and records have
shown that those villages which were provided with electricity have
progressed tremendously and there had been a marked improvement in the
educational results, and in fact it had exceeded those of the urban
General Anuruddha Ratwatte added that in the field of sports the
outstation areas have made tremendous strikes, and for example the
champion rugby club in Sri Lanka is Kandy Sports Club for many years. In
this team there are two players who are from Anuradhapura and
Sabaragamuwa playing at National Level. Therefore, the strategy to
introduce rugby to Bandaranaike M.V. is that all activities undertaken
will ultimately benefit the national team standards.
“Our objective is to have mass participation starting from
youngsters, identifying outstanding prospects, give those elite training
programs and matches and ultimately select the best for the National
pool. Strengthen on what we have been able to build up, thereafter
indications of our success will be seen from the tournaments.” General
Meeting the General ... The little ones of Bandaranayake Maha
Vidyalaya who are going to learn the game of rugby football are
introduced to General Ratwatte by the teacher-in-charge H. M.
Sunethra Kumari and Maurice Perera.
The Principal of Bandaranaike M.V. thanked General Anuruddha Ratwatte
and the Sports Development Foundation for all the enthusiasm extended to
the school in many ways and the CPRFU for conducting the rugby programme
and the assistance received from Sri Lanka Police in Kandy and Hasalaka,
the Department of Education, Provincial Councillors and others who had
come forward in conducting this programme successfully.
He also thanked the Mistress-In-Charge Miss H. M. Sunethra Kumari for
her dedication and enthusiasm in promoting this game with the assistance
of the Sports Development Foundation and the CPRFU.
A large crowd was present to witness the first taste of rugby in the
Veddha land. The little ones were taught the basics like ball handling,
passing the ball, the elementary rules and spots kicking. This training
programme where over a hundred children participated, was a tremendous
In the afternoon they were given an exposure to competitive rugby
when udder 14 school rugby teams from Sri Rahula College, Katugastota;
Mahaweli M.V. Greenwood College, Akurana played exhibition matches. Didi
Ratwatte grandson of Anuruddha Ratwatte who plays for Trinity College
junior team also played in the exhibition matches.
The CPRFU under the leadership of former Sri Lanka and Trinity
College flanker Iswan Omar distributed rugger balls to the school and
also promised further assistance.