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Sunday, 8 February 2009





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette


Putting empty stables right


With two important rugby tours on the cards - the Hong Kong Sevens and Five-Nation Tournament, that the rugby stables are empty of the horses by all accounts does not augur well for the sport; a sport in which Sri Lanka has over the years been labouring to shed the club glamour image to which many enthusiasts argue it alone is confined and rub shoulders internationally.

Clearly, all quarters in the game’s nerve centre - the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) have not seen eye to eye leading to the current breakdown with first the CEO Dilroy Fernando and then its President Nimal Lewke himself quitting with over a month to go for the March hustings.

For a sport which had happily made significant strides when Sri Lanka basked in No. 3 position in the South East Asian Region some two years ago that it has dwindled both result-wise as well as administratively when rugby should have taken off on that aura of showing promise for the future is sad.

That the gamut has shrunk to the depths of an interim committee having to oversee things upto the forthcoming AGM and its coffers nose diving to a point at the SLRFU staring at a massive overdraft as its Chairman Dr. Maiya Gunasekera claims is indeed not good reading. Analytically, our rugby needs much homework to be done from clearing the mess in the national team that has been a bane for the past so many months starting from player dissention as to who should be captain to the running of the sport and still glaringly the financial side; what with the SLRFU facing a sponsorship pull out by long time sponsors Caltex who have alarmingly lost faith in rugby for its shaky position. Something which according to Dr.Maiya Gunasekera is his biggest concern where he will be looking to have the SLRFU in its best dress to impress upon Caltex’s Managing Director Kishu Gomes to win back his nod. Financially, another area that Dr.Maiya Gunasekera upon whom it has fallen would be to expedite the obtaining of a somewhat long overdue International Rugby Board (IRB) grant of 70,000 sterling pounds in 2008 for development of provincial rugby which has been delayed because of a breakdown in the documentation work by the SLRFU. As contended by him this had been because there had been a cloud of uncertainty as to who was CEO at the time.

And this has cost the rugby union a loss of Rs. 5 million as claimed by the Interim Committee Chairman who claimed that the depreciation of the pound would now fetch a us only Rs.10 million this year and not Rs.15 million which would have been the equivalent of 70,000 sterling pounds in 2008. Not sending over the relevant documentation over to the IRB is not the best of things that could have happened for our rugby at a time the sport needs the oxygen of huge currency to sustain it. For the interim committee chairman hard currency is hugely current to the former rugby heavyweight now professionally a medical man who best described the urgency of it all in the following words,”The money that everybody is saying is there is in fact not there.” That is not in the best interest of rugby and it is hoped as Dr.Gunasekera hopes he could speed up his work with the aplomb of his stethoscope before he hands over things tidily for the March 31 hustings to elect new office bearers to the SLRFU. In that respect another vital role vested with the good doctor by the Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge is to review the voting system of office bearers and their eligibility to contest. He would have to satisfy himself first hand that the requirements in the Sports Law which supersedes any other governing law of the SLRFU mainly that. nominees have played national or ‘A’ Division premier rugby.

Notably, Sports Minister Lokuge, commenting on this area on which he had called for a report, said,”If I find that there are any loopholes in the current voting system I will take action to remedy it.” The Minister’s directive follows representations made by the former SLRFU President Senior DIG Nimal Lewke who said that he had drawn the attention of the Minister that some officials were not eligible to hold office.Indeed, rugby lovers would be looking to the sport being restored to a platform from which it would reclaim its lost zest and strive to move up the ladder from 7th position in the South East Asian Region to be counted at Asian level by achieving that longfelt dream of being among the top three in Asia and further improve on its 51st position among 120 countries at world level.



Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
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