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Asanga had warned SLRFU about random spending in November

Asanga Seneviratne

By Lal Gunesekera

It has come light former Deputy President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU), Asanga Senevirante has written a letter in early November last year (2008) to the former executive Director of SLRFU, Dilroy Fernando, and Treasurer, Nandi Anthony, stating that it was a serious concern as to how the finances of the SLRFU are being managed and monies spent randomly without a budget.

Seneviratne had also cautioned that if the SLRFU continues in the same manner that there will be a serious financial crisis and the entire Council will be answerable. He also suggested in this letter to take this matter seriously as the extravagant spending could amount to misappropriation of funds by the Council. He had also stated that the monies given by President Mahinda Rajapakse has been given for specific purposes and not for squandering.

Seneviratne has copied this letter to all former Council Members, Provincial Unions and Clubs.

AG rejects accounts

Now it has transpired that this was the main reason that the Auditor-General's Department rejected the accounts for last year by the cash strapped DIG Nimal Lewke led administration, which  had  maintained accounts  at the Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC where the SLRFU also had its overdrafts.

A former Council member told The Sunday Leader that the "Asian Dragons" tour for two games in connection with the Centenary celebrations of the SLRFU raised many eyebrows and cost about Rs. 2 million. The Asian Division I Tournament in Chinese Taipei cost nearly Rs. 5 million where the Lankans did not win a single game and were at the bottom of the table.

The visa fees for the Dubai International Club 7' too was a whopping Rs. 370,000/-, players allowances cost Rs. 267,000/- (which as a "Development" side they were not entitled to) and with other expenses for DIG Lewke, this tour cost Rs. 1.6 million.

He also disclosed that the Junior (Under 20) Asiad in South Korea cost the SLRFU nearly Rs. 4 million, while the RWC qualifying 7s in Hong Kong cost the SLRFU a little over Rs. 1,350,000/-

The two South African coaches during this period (David Snyman and Andrew Laker) earned a sum of Rs. 220,000/- each per month in addition to Rs. 45,000/- per month as house rent in Colombo Rs. 35,000/- as vehicle lease and Rs. 15,000/- as fuel allowance. This totals a staggering Rs. 535,000/- per month. Then for the months of August, September, October and November, a sum of over Rs. 2 million was spent on both Snyman and Laker. But what were the performances/results of the Sri Lanka teams during this period? Nil!!

Unbelievable is it not?

Sri Lanka were ranked in the 65th place in the world at the end of 2004, and climbed to 42nd position 2005-06 during the tenure of Priyantha Ekanayake as President of the SLRFU and George Simpkin of New Zealand as the national coach. However during 2007-08, Sri Lanka, slid to 68th position with DIG Lewke at the helm of affairs at the SLRFU and spending about Rs. 30 to 40 million.

Never in the history of the SLRFU was there mismanagement and financial irregularities that I can remember since the time of the late Dr. Willie Ratnavale. There were some top caliber gentlemen like Dr. K.B. Sangakkara, Eusace Mathysz, William Molegoda, Elsworth Vanlangenberg, Summa Navaratnam, Mark Bostock, S.B. Pilapitiya, Kavan Rambukwella, Mahinda Rattwatte, Hadji Omar, Y.C. Chang, Lionel Almeida, Malik Samarawickreme, Rudra Rajasingham, Brigadier Jupana Jayawardene, Gamini Fernando, Dr. Maiya Gunasekra, Anton Benedict, and Priyantha Ekanayake heading the SLRFU.

Conflict of interest?

Is it not a conflict of interest for Dilroy Fernando to hold the post of President of the Rugby Referees Association and also be the Director of Sports at CR & FC, which is an 'A' Division club? Although he says that he will not officiate 'A' division club games he could still influence other referees under him to side with CR and FC. Is it not better to step down from referees post Mr. Fernando?

Cricket - Inter-school U-19

Massalage cracks fastest half century

Skipper and opener Indika Massalage cracked the fastest ever half-century off 33 balls for Thurstan in their big match history, on day one of their 46th big'un for the Blackham Wijewardene Memorial Trophy, against Isipathana MV, begun at the Colombo Oval on Friday.

Massalage who eventually made a sparkling 56 off 35 deliveries with the aid of nine boundaries and two sixes laid the platform for what proved to be a formidable total of 249 all out after being inserted by Isipathana. The lads from Colombo 5 made 149 for 4 by the close with Pranama Sri Vimukthi unbeaten on 71.

 Thurstan 249 all out in 60.3 overs (Indika Massalage 56, Chamalka Gamage 60, Shihan Kamileen 56, Ishan Perera 42, Dinusha Fernando 6/67, Anushka Samaratunga 3/80) Isipathana MV 149/4 wkts at close (Dimuth Warapitiya 43, Pranama Sri Vimukthi 71 no)

 Inter Provincial Cricket

Basnahira North trail by 263 runs

Basnahira North trailed Basnahira South by 263 runs with 8 first innings wickets still in tact by stumps on day two of their Inter-Provincial tournament match continued at the Kettarama Stadium on Friday.

Basnahira South first innings 405 all out (H Thirimanne 145, K de Silva 98, T Siriwardene 70, Dhammika Prasad 4/56, Thilina Kandamby 2/56)

Basnahira North first innings 142/2 wkts at close (Ian Daniel 55, Angelo Mathews 64 no, P Perera 2/33).


Wayamba gain overall lead of 97 runs

Wayamba had gained an overall lead of 97 runs with 9 second innings wickets in hand by the close of day two of their four-day Inter-Provincial tournament match against Ruhuna continued at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium on Friday.

Wayamba first innings 275 all out (Mahela Udawatte 85, Jehan Mubarak 43, Sajeewa Weerakoon 4/43) & 37 for 1 wicket at close

Ruhuna first innings 215 all out (Indika de Seram 66, Upul Tharanga 49, Rangana Herath 5/68, Chanaka Welagedera 4/51)

Donald Abeysundera will have to go home - Minister Lokuge

By Lal Gunesekera 

The Chairman of the Sugathadasa National Sports Complex Authority (SNSCA), Donald Abeysundera's services will be terminated very soon. He has failed to adhere to directives issued by the Secretary to the Ministry of Sports and Public Recreation, S. Liyanagama, to hand over the vacant former office complex of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) within the premises of the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium to the Interim Committee of the Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union (SLASU) headed by the Minister of Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services, Maithripala Sirisena.

The Minister of Sports and Public Recreation, Gamini Lokuge, told The Sunday Leader that if Donald Abeysundera cannot follow orders issued by the Ministry, he (Abeysundera), "Will have to go home."

The Secretary of the IC for SLASU, Kiran Atapattu, who is also the Secretary cum Trasurer of the SLRFU and an Advisor to Minister Lokuge,told The Sunday Leader that Minister Maithripala Sirisena had made a request from the Ministry of Sports for the office of the IC for SLASU to move into the former NOC office complex as the NOC had moved into their own headquarter's near the old Race Course.

The Sunday Leader learns that Donald Abeysundera has already moved into the former NOC office complex on Tuesday (February 24) even after the Ministry directive which he purposely ignored.

The Ministry of Sports had obliged, and Atapattu, who is a highly competent business administrator, was given a letter by the Sports Ministry Secretary to proceed in this matter and take over the former NOC office from the Chairman of SNSSCA, Donald Abeysundera.Minister Maithripala Sirisena too authorised Atapattu to go ahead and take possession of the former NOC office.

Armed with this letter from the Secretary to the sports Ministry, Atapattu, had gone to the stadium office on February 20 at about 12 noon. He met the Director of the Sugathadasa Stadium, Cmdr. H.U. Silva, and handed over the letter from the Sports Ministry.

Immediately, Cmdr Silva, had rung Donald Abeysundera in Atapattu's presence and told the Chairman that Atapattu had come to take over the former office complex of the NOC for the IC of SLASU on the instructions of the Sports Ministry Secretary and Minister Maithripala Sirisena.

During this conversation between the Chairman and Cmdr. Silva, Atapattu, had overheard Chairman Abeysundra instructing Cmdr Silva that SNSCCA   will now move into the identical former NOC office the following day (February 21) and not to give it to SLASU.

Atapattu was then requested by Cmdr Silva to hand over the Sports Ministry letter to the Chairman's office in the same complex. Atapattu had given this letter to a female typist in the Chairman's office as both Chairman Abeysundera and his Private Secretary, Ms. Suneetha Perera, were missing. The typist had spoken to Ms. Perera on the phone, and Atapattu, was told to tell the Sports Ministry Secretary "We don't have space and are unable to give the former NOC office to SLASU."

Atapattu was then requested by Cmdr Silva to hand over the Sports Ministry letter to the Chairman's office in the same complex. Atapattu had given this letter to a female typist in the Chairman's office as both Chairman Abeysundera and his Private Secretary, Ms. Suneetha Perera, were missing. The typist had spoken to Ms. Perera on the phone, and Atapattu, was told to tell the Sports Ministry Secretary that "we don't have space and are unable to give the former NOC office to SLASU."

Atapattu had then gone back to see Cmdr Silva and told him what had transpired. At that moment, Abeysundera, happened to call Cmdr Silva, and Atapattu had understood from the conversation that Abeysundera had said that "Mr. Maithripla Sirisena could be a senior cabinet minister and is trying to occupy the former NOC office only as Chairman of the IC for SLASU, but I am the Chairman of the SSNSCA."

Atapattu had informed Minster Gamini Lokuge, who was in Pakistan about this matter, and also Minister Maithripala Sirisena.

The intention of both Minister Gamini Lokuge and Minister Maithripala Sirisena is to promote and develop this sport in all provinces and districts. This is the main reason why the IC for SLASU wanted to move into the former office complex of the NOC, to be close to a swimming pool and not to the old Race Course grounds. Now these hopes and dreams seem to have been shattered by the inefficient Donald Abeysundera.

Atapattu said: It's a dream of every young rural swimmer to swim in the pool at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium. I was visibly moved last week to see the parents of these rural kids so interested, that they had come not only to see their children compete at the Novices Meet (1300 kids took part), but also bringing along with them their mats (pedura) to sleep and keep a close eye and care on their children.

Audit queries too

Numerous audit queries of the SNSSCA under the same Donald Abeysundera was raised by the Auditor-General's Department as exposed by The Sunday Leader of December 21 last year (2008), but nothing seems to have come out of it. Why?

Also, a group of employees of the SNSSCA wrote to President Mahinda Rajapakse and Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge appealing to them to take measurers to prevent the SNSSA "From precipating into ruin." This letter was sent on October 5 last year (2008)

But no action has been taken on this matter as well. Why? Has Abeysundera got "Political clout" to prevent inquiries against him and the institution which was established in 1996?

 Take necessary action onthese vital issues raised by The Sunday Leader immediately Minister Lokuge and get to the bottom of these revelations.

Tender fraud?

Abeysundera has also given a tender to build a gymnasium floor to Lanic Sports for Rs. 6 million last year (2008). He had authorised payment for Rs. 3 million and with the "commission" earned had even gone for the Olympic Games in China with a companion. Even after the advance of Rs. 3 million was paid to Lanic Sports, the work on the floor has not yet got off the ground.

He was alleged to have received payment from a former employee on a monthly basis.

HU resigns

The Dirctor of the SNSCA, Cmdr H.U. Silva too has sent his resignation from March 25.

Rugby IC's constitutional knock-on

ITS existence is now approaching two months, and all that we've heard from rugby's new interim committee is about the need to rewrite the constitution - as if all the ills and abuses of the previous regime were due to flaws in the present constitution.

Lest it is forgotten, the true reason why the interim committee came into being needs reminding: Sport Minister Lokuge dissolved the previous body because its controversial chief, DIG Nimal Lewke and his Secretary, SSP Duke Hamid, resigned days of each other, in early January. The AGM was only weeks away at the time the duo quit, and sans them, President and Secretary, there was no way of legally summoning the crucial Feb.21 meeting, at which officials for 2009 were to be elected. Rugby administration pretty much found itself stranded in no man's land.  And thus was born rugby's first ever interim committee.

To hold the AGM.

Ostensibly, the task of the new committee was to clear the decks for holding the AGM, in minister Lokuge's words, "as soon as possible''. A skeletal two-man committee - as opposed to the five-six members that make up most other interim committees - seemed to suggest that, once the AGM is summoned and then conducted "as soon as possible'', their job would've been over and done with: a quick-fix assignment, really. 

 Dr. Maiya Gunasekera, one-time SLRFU President, and Kiran Atapattu, one with no previous allegiance to rugby, however, think what they've been handed is not a plumber's job, but one of rebuilding the house itself, foundation up. And as evidence of the decay in the present structure, the 'demolition-duo' has pointed out the extravagant spending habits of the DIG Lewke regime -financial indiscipline that can be prevented not so much by a new constitution as teachings on morals and ethics. 

The presence in the last committee of a few officials, including Secretary Hamid, who were ineligible to hold office, was also highlighted by the IC. Again, a new constitution isn't going to guarantee that the qualification rules for office in the SLRFU wouldn't be breached. The present constitution spells out those qualifications anyway - so the question here is all about the honesty of officials, a flaw a new constitution might put right if it specifies mandatory lie-detector tests for aspiring office bearers.

 Few imperfections

 This is not to say all is alright with the present constitution, but then which one is? To be sure, the SLRFU constitution has more than a few imperfections, as the good doctor might surely have learnt of during his long years in union administration in varied roles, in the 90s. So, it has to be said, his grousing about the present constitution is not the ranting of a congenital faultfinder.

The burden of his song is the voting system prescribed in the present constitution. A bit of history needs to be sketched in for an easier understanding of Dr Gunasekera's argument. The first thing to be said is that the present constitution is comparatively of recent origin, adopted as it was in 1991-92. It replaced a constitution that had centered on the interests of clubs and was written in times when rugby was strictly amateur. The sport was recreational and parochial as opposed today's professionalism and internationalism. The worldwide trend towards the latter began in the early 1980s and Sri Lanka followed suit in 1991-92 when, with more than a little help from New Zealander Jeff Matheson, the present constitution was drafted. The chief aim was to push the boundaries of rugby beyond Colombo and Kandy and into rural interiors. 

Erosion of power base

To cut a long story short, what rugby's new vision meant were the establishment of Provincial Unions -which in turn led to the erosion of the clubs' long-held powerbase. So, where clubs once voted for union office bearers, now only the Provincial Unions did.

It is this voting system that the good doctor is questioning, not so much the principle of it as the allotment to the provinces. Each provincial union's vote-entitlement is decided by the number of competition-playing clubs in that province. But when the Western Province, which fields all but one of the nine clubs that compete in the premier division, is allotted 10 votes and the Southern Province that has no clubs in the premier tournament given 12 votes and Central Province, with one club in the top division, gets 10 votes, then a public flogging now and then of the present constitution is to be expected. It's now Dr. Gunasekera's turn to use the cat-o'-nine-tails.

Whether Dr. Gunasekera recommends the restoration of voting power to the clubs or some other method, only time will tell, but he hasn't disguised his disapproval of the provincial union's extraordinary voting privilege. To be fair, it must be said that the case Dr. Gunasekera makes out has some merit. After all, notwithstanding the grand goals of the present constitution, the fact is, our domestic rugby remains Colombo-based yet. 

For instance, it's an irony that, despite the Western Province's (read: Colombo clubs') voting strength being lesser, its members are in majority in the Council, the decision-making body. This says two things 1/ more competent officials are to be found in Colombo and Kandy and 2/ the other provincial unions votes are up for canvassing by candidates from rivals Western and Central Provinces. And so, the old game of politics continues.   

Anyway, as aforementioned, Dr Gunasekera's final solution remains in the unknown of the future. But if his recommendations do tamper with the present the voting system, then, that clearly would be politically incorrect. After all, for reasons obvious, governments don't want to be even seen as approving moves which deprive provinces of development, even of rugby.

But then what Dr. Gunasekera effectively is saying is: shouldn't a province-centered constitution, which the present one is, be kept on hold until such time all provinces have developed their rugby to a point when an inter-provincial tournament worth its name can take the place of the present inter-club competition as the premier domestic tournament. As it is, it seems a case of feet of size-four plonked into size-10 boots.

 Logical as Dr Gunasekera's argument is, nevertheless it doesn't harmonise with the definitions of development. The undertaking of the present constitution is huge. To convert rugby into an island wide sport isn't an overnight job. That after almost two decades of Provincial Unions, not one new outstation club has emerged worthy of A division rugby, admittedly, does question the validity of the present constitution.

There is, however, another explanation to the stagnation in the new rugby provinces. Besides, constitutionally incorporating provincial unions, it is pertinent to ask if successive regimes have made the sort of investments required to achieve the ambitions set out in the present constitution. Of course, what ever projects begun in the outstations, the union has made certain that they are well-publicized, pictures and all. Indeed, some programs for rural beginners are commendable, as are the devoted endeavours of individuals like Kumar Abeywardene, of Southern Province, and Arjun Dharmadasa of Sabaragamuwa. As far as keenness shown by the SLRFU's to provincial development . well, let's just say enough to earn the annual Rs.14M. development grant from the IRB.

IC must hold AGM

Clearly, the provincial development hasn't been high on list of the priorities of the SLRFU - and how a new constitution can rectify that is beyond comprehension. So, rather than go on about the need for a new constitution, it's best the interim committee focus on matters that will make it possible to hold the AGM "as soon as possible''. With an elected committee, the provincial rugby has at least a voice in the Council to air its concerns. Under an IC, provincial unions are as good as dead.

All that apart, uncertain times are ahead of Sri Lanka rugby. The economic recession is going to bite deeper, the shrinking sponsorship pie multiplying the union's financial difficulties. The grapevine has it that champion side, Kandy SC, is in desperate search of a team-sponsor to replace its long-time backer Singer. As well, the IRB is to withhold its annual grant as it recognizes only elected national governing bodies, which the IC isn't. Top IRB officials are to fly out next week to study the present state of our rugby affairs - a visit which says that the IRB grant to Sri Lanka rugby might not be the automatic payout it was. If it does decide to continue to make the grant, then, it's just possible it will come with the proviso that an IRB-appointed official should oversee its spending. 

That is not the last of the IC's problems. The Southern Province Union say the IC hasn't paid its Development and Technical Officers since January and has expressed fears that the development work in the south might have to be discontinued.

So, it naturally has to be asked if it's within the capacity of a two-man committee and its' Rs.90, 000 per month CEO to address these mind-boggling issues.

If the good doctor, amdist juggling with all the aforesaid difficulties, yet manages to re-write the constitution, then. well, Superman better look for another job.

Roy de  Silva did a lot for sports 

By Hafiz Marikar

Roy de Silva, an old boy of Kingswood did a lot for sports, through the Sri Lanka Hockey Federation and National Olympic Council. His achievements in the field of sports administration cannot be equaled by any sportsman from Kandy.

Roy de Silva during his days was a live wire and still he gives a big hand for sports promotion  in Kandy. He has a record, in the National Olympic Council, where he led the NOC as Chairman for fourteen long years from 1983 to 1997. Who will be able to take up this high post form Kandy again? Roy's favourite game was hockey, he played from junior level and was rated a fantastic player. He also played cricket and led the junior side, and in Athletics he was a champion.

He left school when he was16 years, and  oconcentrated on business and politics after leaving school.

In Politics he became the youngest Village Council Chairman, of the Yatinuwara Ganga Palatha Village Council. With his busy work he continued to play hockey and represented the KandyDistricHockeyAssociation

(KDHA) XI in the first ever National Championship in 1956, and went on to play for the KDHA team for ten long years from 1956.

He was rated as a top class hockey Umpire. Roy was the secretary of the Kandy District Hockey Association under the presidency of M.S. Jainudeen doyen of Kandy Hockey and Football.

He was also a fine cricketer and played for the Kandy United Cricket Club. Later he took over the Presidency of Sri Lanka Hockey Federation, and held the post for twelve long years. During his leadership, he has sent many  national teams for tournaments abroad.

He brought honour and fame to the country by being the Vice President of the Asian Hockey Federation for 19 years and also was the Vice President of the Olympic Council of Asia.

His biggest break came in the Asian Olympics when he was elected to be the Acting President, when the president Sheikh Al Fahd Al Sabah was killed on the first day of the Kuwaiti invasion. As the acting President he opened the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing. He also severed as member in the Commonwealth Games Federation Fianc‚ Committee for eight years. Roy was a founder member of the South Asian Federation, and was involved in many SAF Games organizing committee.

He later was the committee member of the Kandy District Cricket Association and became the Vice President and also was President after Harindra Dunuwille's term. At that time Kandy had a number of cricket  tournaments.Under his leadership several International games were played in Kandy at the Asgiriya Stadium.

He  presented the L.E.Blaze Cup for the match between his old school Kingswood College and Wesley College, when he   was the  president of the Kingswood Old Boys Union.

He  brought up the centenary old Kandy Club to the present standard. This club was once dominated by the Whites.

He was President of the Kandy Club for 17 rears and gave the club the much wanted face lift.

The club has a full side Cue table, and fine fellowship counter, and six top class rooms.

 Still he gives his best for sports, and follows all sports, specially the overseas ones on Television, and he is a sports promoter and knows about each and every sport. He was one time Chairman of the Oils and Fats Cooperation and Milk Board. His wife Chandrika too was a good hockey player and she still plays Tennis. His two sons Asitha and Chulantha played Rugger for Trinity College.

Classic Dilroy admits "following orders"

By Lal Gunesekera

Former Executive Director of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU), Dilory Fernando, has confessed to the Chairman of the Interim Committee for SLRFU, Dr. Maiya Gunasekera, that he (Fernando) was only "Following orders" of the previous Council.

Dr. Gunasekra told The Sunday Leader that Fernando has told him (Dr. Gunasekera) that the Council was informed of various irregularities by the former Executive Director, who seems to convert himself to be the "scapegoat" in this high profile drama of the DIG Lewke led previous administration.

"The Ministry of Sports will now have to conduct an inquiry into this matter," said Dr. Guansekera.

If Dilory Fernando knew what he did at "certain times" was wrong, why did he not resign instead of waiting for his contract to come to an end at the end of last year (2008)?  By staying on, Fernando, too was a partner in the decision making of the previous Councl. The Referees Association (SLRRA) yet operates from the SLRFU headquarters. Why is this permitted?

Iswan Omar writes on jerseys

Reference The Sunday Leader article, on February 22 titled "More skeletons in Dilory's cupboard" under "Old jerseys" Iswan Omar, Senior Vice-President of Kandy Sports Club, writes to state that the club had budgeted Rs. 10,000/- for the 16 ball pickers from four development schools in the outskirts of Kandy for new jerseys, traveling, meals, refreshments etc, but the Interim Committee of the SLRFU confirmed the Kandy 7's only at the last moment. This was the reason that the jerseys could not be ordered in time, and hence it was not ordered.

Note: The Interim Committee had informed Kandy SC by letter on January 31 confirming the dates for the Kandy 7s for February 7 and 8. Wasn't seven days sufficient Mr. Omar to order and get delivery of the jerseys. You could even import them within three days. Also, there are so many garment factories and sports goods shops in and around Kandy. Would they have not obliged?

Also, please do not send me any accounts in future addressed to the Secretary of the IC of the SLRFU as I am not a member of the IC.

Sports Editor.

Raigam flies high

Raigam Marketing Services (pvt) Limited won the Mercantile 'E' Division cricket title by beating L.B. Finance by six wickets in the final over last week end at the MCA grounds. L.B. Finance were all out for 189 in 35.5 overs, while Raigam made 192 for 4 in 30.3 overs.

L.B. Finacne: 189 in 35.5 overs (Malidu Pramesh 37, Rajeeva Weerasinghe 37, Sameera Vithana 2 for 21, Thilini Suresh 2 for 24, Lilaj Priyankara 2 for 46).

Raigam: 192 for 4 in 30.3 voers (Sachin Madushaka 79, Thilina Suresh 35, Sameera Withana not out 23, Ishanka Gimhan not out 17,m Tharuka de Sivla 3 for 30.








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