Elimination of LTTE - all can breathe a sigh of relief - Sports
Gamini Lokuge - Minister of Sports and Public Recreation.
Dilan Perera - Minister of Port Development and President of
Volleyball Federation of Sri Lanka.
SPORTS TO PROSPER: A jubilant Minister of Sports and Recreation
Gamini Lokuge said that with the elimination of terrorists, all could
breathe a sigh of relief, and each and everyone, may be sportsmen or
ordinary citizens could now walk on the street without fear.
“We should be thankful to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence
Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the Armed Forces for their
indefatigable combine effort in eradicating terrorism in Sri Lanka.
An year ago, Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle was a victim of a suicide
bomber at Weliveriya while attending a Sinhala Avurudu Festival. Among
the others who sacrificed their lives were former national athletic
coach Lakshman de Alwis and marathon specialist K.A.Karunaratne.
Minister Lokuge emphasised that in the near future sports activities
in the North and East could be brought back to normalcy.
Sri Lanka, which has been in the throes of terrorism for the past
three-decades, heaved a sigh of relief early this week, when the gallant
security forces under the steadfast leadership of Commander-in-Chief
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the
three forces Commanders (General Sarath Fonseka, Admiral Wasantha
Karannagoda, Air Chief Marshall Roshan Gunathilake and IGP Jayantha
Wickremarathne), liberated the North from the claws of the now
vanquished LTTE terrorists.
Thus, the eradication of terrorism from the face of this land, no
doubt signals the commencement of an era free from terror and fear in
every imaginable strata of the society.
- Secretary - Interim Committee SLASU.
Fernando - President of National Olympic Committee.
||Rohan Fernando - President
Amateur Rowing Association of Sri Lanka.
Gomez - Former President of ABA of Sri Lanka.
Janaka Bogollagama - President of Sri Lanka Tennis Association.
Susanthika Jayasinghe - Olympic Games Bronze Medallist.
de Silva Chairman of the Interim Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket
Major General Palitha Fernando - President of Sri Lanka AAA
The field of sports, was well and truly gripped by the terrorists for
well-nigh 30-years, with the rest of the world blacklisting Sri Lanka as
a `no go zone’ in lieu of the raging North-East conflict in this
Going down memory lane, we could recall that the very first-time or
the instance, of a sports team being rattled by the North-East
separatist war, was when in 1987 the New Zealand Cricket team,
prematurely ended their tour of the island, as a result of the LTTE
exploding a bomb in the heart of the metropolis in Pettah.
The Kiwis without hesitation packed up their luggage and headed home,
curtailing their three Test series after the completion of the
That only Test-match of the tour was memorable for then wicket-keeper
opening batsman Brendon Kuruppu (currently Sri Lanka team manager)
scoring the maiden double-hundred for his country, in Test cricket, but
the euphoric celebrations lasted for only mere days, as the LTTE
terrorists had other ideas of getting the spotlight for their cause by
setting a bomb off in the capital. Nine-years later, with the North-East
war raging, security fears in the country prompted Australia and West
Indies to withdraw from playing their World Cup games in Sri Lanka even
after being guaranteed VVIP security, and again it further highlighted
the country, as a unsafe part of the world in the Indian sub-continent.
However, it must be recorded that both neighbouring giants India and
Pakistan were prompt in extending their
Chrysantha Perera - Chief Executive Officer of Football
Federation of Sri Lanka
solidarity by travelling here to
feature in an exhibition match, and it was a true morale-booster for the
Being boosted by that gesture of goodwill of both India and Pakistan,
the islanders who were rank outsiders for the sport’s showpiece
tournament at the start of it, cocked a snook at their detractors going
on to lift the most prestigious title in cricketing history under the
astute and no-nonsense leadership of Arjuna Ranatunga.
Despite winning the World Cup as one of the least-fancied teams in
the tournament, the rest of the world sporting wise, refused outright to
either brand or look at Sri Lanka as a safe place to indulge in any kind
of sport, and the country continued to be blighted by the scourge of
terrorism from a sports perspective till the year 2006.
The most recent draw-back took place in year 2006, when South Africa
pulled out mid-way through a cricket tour here, due to a terrorist
attack in downtown Colombo (Kollupitiya).
That bomb blast well and truly disrupted a tri-series Sri Lanka was
hosting with the participation of India, and the latter agreed to remain
in Sri Lanka, notwithstanding the blast, but fickle weather prevailing
at the time, put paid to any chances of a bi-lateral series between Sri
Lanka and India.
It must also be mentioned that when South Africa attempted to leave
the country upon the news reaching them of the blast, even after the
Government and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) assured the tourists of VVIP and
Presidential level security, the Daily News’ carried a banner headline
‘Proteas Chickens Out’ in its main sports page, written by our veteran
colleague Elmo Rodrigopulle.
Numerous have been the times and occasions, the country has lost
opportunities of hosting several sporting events due to terrorists
calling the shots in this country, as most visiting teams did not want
to take a chance, with widespread acts of terror taking place even in
the often-perceived safe South of the country.
Then in 2007, Sri Lanka had to experience many disappointments before
securing the Rugby Asiad, but yet most top-ranked countries such as
Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei expressed their fear in
travelling to the country.
They all point-blank refused to be here, saying it was unsafe to
indulge in rugby in Sri Lanka while bombs kept on exploding every now
and then in Colombo and its suburbs, but to the credit of the Sri Lanka
Rugby Football Union - the sport’s main controlling body managed to
stage the tournament, in which the hosts emerged runners-up to eventual
champs Kazakhstan. Even, the local rugby calendar’s most popular
International Sevens Tournament - the Singer SriLankan Rugby Sevens
staged in Nittawela, Kandy was constantly dogged by the security fears
in the country, during the tournament’s 11-year unbroken run.
Most countries conveniently pointed to terror attacks in the island,
as reasons for failing to take part, even when assured of the highest
possible security in the land, but to the credit of the organisers it
must be stated that they have done a creditable job in hosting the
popular tournament, by enticing several other foreign countries
unhindered upto now.
Looking at the brighter side of things, sky would be the limit for
Sri Lanka, if officials and players market the country as a safe heaven
for international sports events in the wake of the liberation of the
North from the clutches of the terrorists.
It would also without doubt pave the way for our skilled sportsmen
and women in many disciplines to pit their talents against international
opposition in their own backyard, sans the fear of terror hanging over
them like the Sword of Damocles.
It is also high-time, that local sports officials put their
differences aside and draw future plans and attract sponsors for all
sports without any segregation so that all sports could derive the best
use of the elimination of terrorism from this land.
Market Sri Lanka
An onerous task facing many sports bodies, namely cricket and rugby
in particular, would be to market Sri Lanka, as a country free to tour
for international sports teams once more with the end of the 30-year war
for good last week.
Especially, cricket being the country’s most popular team sport, by a
long yardstick, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), will have to speed up its
efforts to invite more in-bound tours to the country, from other ICC
Test-nations, if the eradication of terrorism, is to have any kind of
meaning, as far as sports is concerned.
The SLRFU which governs the country’s second most popular team sport,
Rugby Football, too, has to make diligent efforts in trying to procure
more tours to the country from the region, and allay the fears of Asian
giants Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan to name a few.
Hence the SLC and SLRFU has a real challenge ahead of them in
liaising closely with their two world bodies ICC and IRB to promote Sri
Lanka as a free destination, devoid of terrorism for all future sporting
activities.The Ministry of Sports under the stewardship of Minister of
Sports Gamini Lokuge must soon discuss with the respective NSA’s and
draw a masterplan for sports to be spread throughout the country.
That should also be done with the consultation of the National
Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOC).
The time has come for the country, to make the best use of the latest
developments to invest on the future of Sri Lanka, in a terrorism free
atmosphere and environment. On behalf of all sportsmen and women,
officials, coaches and fans countrywide, ‘Sunday Observer’ takes this
opportunity at this moment of national freedom, to express our gratitude
and humbly thank one and all who made the ultimate sacrifices to
eradicate the scourge of terrorism from the face of this historic land.
We also salute President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the three armed forces commanders and IG for the
courageous and valiant steps taken during the gruelling journey to wipe
out this threat from our shores for once and for all and all sports and
its countless followers in this country and outside, will forever be
indebted to all those personalities who were actively involved in
bringing peace back to the country.
Major General Palitha Fernando: President of Sri Lanka AAA, said that
the future for athletics is bright and larger participation could be
expected. Earlier the parents were reluctant to send their children to
participate due to terrorist activities. Now there is no war and it’s a
Road running, marathons which were very popular during the past could
now be revived in the North and East without any worry.
Janaka Bogollagama: the President of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association
said that tennis was played in the North and East from the old days in
Jaffna and Batticaloa.
Even during the recent past, with the turmoil going on SLTA helped
Jaffna once it was liberated to continue tennis in the schools and also
Batticaloa with the assistance of the SLTA.
Rohan Fernando: President Amateur Rowing Association of Sri Lanka,
said that we have much better chance to propagate the sport with the
assistance of Service personnel. We have already discussed the blue
print for the intake of quality rowers for the national squad and also
to set rowing facilities all over the country specially in Sri Lanka
waterways. Sri Lanka Navy could play a big role for the promotion of
rowing now that the war has ended.
Kiran Atapattu: The Secretary Interim Committee of Sri Lanka Aquatic
Sports Union said that It’s fantastic as President Mahinda Rajapaksa has
wiped out terrorism from our country after 30 long years.
We will start developing aquatic sports, swimming, synchronised
swimming, diving, waterpolo in the North and East in a big way as one of
our developing projects.
Dian Gomes (former President ABA): With the dawning of peace in Sri
Lanka, the ABA is perfectly placed to expand its development initiatives
to a wider base across the country. One major area of focus will be
within the armed forces which has traditionally been the breeding ground
for Sri Lanka’s boxing talent over the years.
We also expect an influx of new talent coming through from the North
and East and steps are already under way to promote the sport and drive
development initiatives within these regions.
In addition, the current Vice President of the ABA, Maj. Gen. Jagath
Jayasuriya the security forces commander who spearheaded the Wanni
offensive will take his place at the helm as President of the ABA next
year. His leadership will augment our strategic plan for the 2012 London
Hemasiri Fernando: President, National Olympic Committee of Sri
Lanka, said that we have been talking of national sports bodies. Are
they responsible for developing the sport not only in Colombo or North
and East, for the last 25 years.
Now it is the time for the Ministry of Sports, Sport Development
Department and Education Department to combine and embark on proper
designed project on talent identification in the North and East.
Cricket in a Big way
D. Somachandra de Silva former Sri Lanka Test allrounder and now the
Chairman of the Interim Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket said that thanks
to President Mahinda Rajapaksa terrorist activity has been wiped out and
the North and East has been liberated.
Cricket will be re-introduced in a big way from now onwards in the
North and East. The parents of young cricketers were not prepared to
send their young ones for participation in cricket due to security
The new scenario would result in a new influx of talent and higher
participation at junior level from the ages of under-12. There was no
representation to national cricket teams from the North and East for the
last 30 years.
New scenario will produce new players in the same manner the national
team representation had enlarged to other provinces during the past few
years with lesser concentration from around Colombo and suburbs.
Cricket is a spectator game. In the past, many foreign players were
not happy to visit Sri Lanka due to security constraints and now more
foreign teams would visit Sri Lanka in future.
Olympic Medallist and famed athlete Susanthika Jayasinghe said that
she is confident that we could find future medal winning athletes from
the North and East very soon.
If the Sri Lanka Athletic Association who can follow our forces who
fought bravely and wiped out terrorism, must now concentrate fully to
send out qualified coaches to North and East and find the hidden talent
and give proper training and guidance. Surely then stars will emerge
from those areas who will one-day bring honour to Sri Lanka.
Chrysantha Perera: Chief Executive Officer of Football Federation of
Sri Lanka said that Football is a common man’s game, caste, creed are
not taken into account. The FFSL will make every endeavour to popularise
the game of football in the North and East.
Dilan Perera Minister of Ports Development: President of the Sri
Lanka Volleyball Federation said that it is an ideal time for all sports
bodies to rally round and promote and develop sports in the North and
I think through sports we can bring communal harmony. Through sports
unity could be strengthened. Even the Volleyball Federation of Sri Lanka
Motto is Unity through Sports. “I am proud to state that even before
this victory, Sri Lanka Volleyball Federation made several attempts and
took steps to promote volleyball in the North and East.
It should be mentioned at the last Volleyball National Championships
there were well over 60 teams from the North and East.It is planned to
have volleyball academies in the North and East in the near future.
Chairman of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) Interim
Committee Dr. Maiya Gunasekera hailed the liberation of the North from
the LTTE terrorists by the astounding commitment of the security forces
along with the unwavering leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa,
`unprecedented’ in the annals of this country since gaining independence
from Britain in 1948.He said the closely-knit family of President
Rajapaksa and his government, combatting the LTTE terrorists that the
latter had found it difficult to buy any of them with the kind of money
they had amassed over the years.
Dr. Gunasekera added that from a rugby perspective, the end of
terrorism will stand in good stead as sponsors and various other firms
and companies will come forward to invest in sports in a big way.
He noted that with the country being devoid of terrorism, the SLRFU
will be able to bid for more international tournaments and even invite
countries like Japan, Korea and Hong Kong to travel to Sri Lanka so that
they could freely engage in world class sports events sans the fear of
terror hovering around them.