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• Minister Lokuge blunders once more

Gamini Lokuge, Ranil Abeynake and Silva

Appointments of "DS,"
Abeynaike against Sports Law

By Lal Gunesekera

The appointments of Silva as Chairman of the Interim Committee for Sri Lanka Cricket (SLS) and that of Ranil Abeynaike as one of its members are highly questionable.

Gazette Extraordinary of April 21,2005, clearly states in Regulation (1) (F) that a person directly or indirectly involved in carrying out the business of gaming, including gambling and horse racing, shall be disqualified from being elected or other wise to hold or continue to hold any paid or unpaid office or a member of a committee of any national association, a nominee of an affiliate club or organization in a national association.

Has this regulation of the amended Sports law of 1973 being adhered to where Silva is concerned. He is married to E.W.Balasuriya’s brother’s daughter. The Balasuriyas are leading book markers in Sri Lanka, and de Silva also managed one in Colombo.

As the President’s Advisor on Cricket, de Silva, occupies a room at SLS, and is paid a salary of Rs 300,000/= a month plus vehicle and mobile phone.Will he (de Silva) give up all these perks if his appointment as Chairman of SLS’s IC is legal, as this is a Honourary post or has he got better things on his mind?

Where Abeynaike is concerned, he comes under the microscope of the Gazette of April 21, 2005 which states in Regulation (1) (d) that a person cannot hold office of any national association if "he is a professional reporter."

Abeynaike is not only a TV cricket commentator, but also contributes to a regular column in a Sunday newspaper.

Nishan Ranatunga, a younger brother of the previous chairman of the IC for SLS, the 1996 world cup winning captain, Arjuna, has been appointed as the secretary. The younger Ranatunga sibling was employed at Union Assurance and Mobitel and gave up under "strange" circumstances. He also served as Director General of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC)

The elder Ranatunga has instituted legal proceedings against minister of Sports and Public recreation, Gamini Lokuge, who removed Ranatunga from the post of chairman of SLC’s Interim Committee last year (2008).

Sujeewa Rajapakse, who was seen "shuttling" between the room of Silva at SLS and Nawaloka Hospital, has been appointed as the Treasurer, while the other members of the IC are Gunaratne Weerasinghe of the Pan Asia Bank and a cousin of Minister Gamini Lokuge, and former Sri Lanka Cricketer Pramodya Wickremesinghe, who has now crossed over to the UPFA after being UNP organiser for Matara.

The Sunday Leader learns that among those who refused to take up appointments in the IC were former secretaries S. Skandakumar and Mathivanan, Hemasiri Fernando (who has also resigned from the 2011 World Cup Organising Committee),Sidath Wettemuny, Mahesh Gunatilleke and Kushil Gunasekara.

Asked to resign

The Sunday leader also learns that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SLC, Duleep Mendis has been ordered to resign by Silva, and is contemplating migrating to Australia.

Best wishes to Sanga

My best wishes go out to Sanga on his appointment as Captain of the Sri Lanka Cricket Team and also to Murali as Vice Captain. Both are senior players with proven ability and they are certain to do well. Yet, I fervently hope they get the unstinted support of the seniors in the team.

It was with a heavy heart that I visited the hospital where the injured players were admitted on their return from Lahore. To witness my former mates in this position was traumatic. Our national team is one of the most amiable within the Test playing circuit and no cricketer deserves this treatment.

Apart from engaging in their chosen profession they are entertainers of the highest order, appreciated by our people, those who witness their prowess on TV and by those who flock to the stadium. I can well imagine the trauma they together with their families went through. With proper counselling and care the team should be back at their best or even be better from now on.

I am writing this column from Jaffna. From St.Johns’ College cricket grounds to be exact. I am here to search for talent through the Aravinda de Silva Sports Foundation. The programme is to identify and nurse talent for 15 and over and under 18 year players for the future. Coca Cola of India is sponsoring this programme and we were assisted by the Peace Secretariat. We call it the "pathway programme" and I intend unearthing talent to represent Sri Lanka in the future. This weekend is going to be exciting stuff and I am looking eagerly to the 70 players identified to show their wares.

Test and one day cricket is being played in New Zealand (New Zealand Vs India), in South Africa( Australia Vs South Africa) and in the West Indies ( England Vs West Indies). The unfortunate teams without any cricket at this moment are Bangladesh, Pakistan and of course Sri Lanka. Doesnt speak well for the sub continent. Will be back with you next week and of course I will enlighten you with the talent or the lack of it, in the north.

'Santa' isn't boss, but yet it's daily x'mas for boxing

HE is no longer the boss, but that doesn't mean Dian Gomes' influence in Sri Lanka boxing is about to be extinguished. Last week he handed the reins of ABA presidency to Udeni Kiridene after an exhausting five-year term, and you'd think the man would now want to make a clean break - and, in the famous words of departing sport chiefs, "give more time to family and job.''

 The delicious prospect of having all of your free-time for yourself, however, doesn't appeal to the man. He won't let go of the ABA just yet, even if it means serving on its executive committee as a mere club representative - a demotion, which placed in a political context, would pretty much be the same as the   President choosing, at term's end, to serve as junior minister.

One-time presidents of sport bodies functioning in lesser capacities might be strange, but not a new phenomenon. The power, perks and social status that comes with sport office appointments is why some officials might want to overstay their welcome. To take leave of the good life, after all, isn't an easy thing to do.

All year Santa Claus

It would, however, be gross injustice to place the prosperous CEO of garments giants, MAS Holdings, among that breed of self-seekers, an error of judgement you would avoid if you knew the part he played in taking the ABA from penury to affluence, and were aware that he's given dozens of talented young boxers, with impoverished pasts, a better deal in life through well-paid jobs in companies under his watch. Not incorrectly, he earned the moniker "all-year Santa Claus'' to Sri Lanka boxing. Some critics, in fact, interpreted his generosity as pandering that only went to "spoil the boxers''.

That is an accusation that cannot be substantiated, vague as it is. Perhaps, should a trace of truth be found in that claim, then, the problem is one concerning attitude, a personality flaw that even a parsimonious president might be helpless to rectify. Frankly, this is resorting to nit-picking in the absence of clear evidence of misrule. And, to think that a debate on whether our boxers were spoilt or not should ever figure in a review of Gomes' reign is, in my view, admission that the last five years have been a period of good governance.

After all, to earn an epitaph of "everyday Santa Claus'' is far more complimentary than to be referred to as "rogue'', "dictator'', "self-seeker'' and such names that departing sport chiefs are being labelled with these days. You only have to listen to the things they now say about Arjuna Ranatunga and DIG Nimal Lewke, last chief of cricket and rugby respectively, to realise how our world of sport can turn so viciously against its retiring bosses.

If boxing spared Gomes of a nasty farewell, it is simply because he didn't do anything to deserve it. Few will disagree with the view that Gomes' corporate-style of governance and, more crucially, his personal contributions, puts his long stewardship beyond criticism. In fact, you wonder, by choosing to remain in boxing as a lowly representative of his club, Slimline, if he is actually devaluing his illustrious record as ABA chief. Whether that is the case or not, we'll discuss after we've first taken stock of his contributions to boxing since assuming the presidency back in 2004.


His five-year watch has been tiresome to say the least. Preparations for participation in two Commonwealth Championships (2005/07 in Glasgow and Liverpool), Commonwealth Games (2007, Melbourne) Asian Games (2006, Doha), World Championships (2007, Chicago) and countless other international meets of lesser importance in places as near as New Delhi, Karachi and Bangkok, in places as strange as Ulaan Baatar, in Mongolia, and Baku in Azerbaijan, and as far-away as Hanoi, Vietnam and Quentin, France - an international program that will compare favourably with any of those of boxing's developed nations. Sri Lankan boxers have figured in at least six overseas meets annually over the past five years - a staggering improvement on the once-in-four-years SAF participation of not so long ago. It wouldn't be wrong to assume that our boxers have seen more of the world than our more reputed cricketers. 

Gomes' largesse was distributed to local followers of boxing, too. International dual contests, unseen since the Eddie Gray-initiated duals of the 60s with India and Pakistan, returned to Sri Lanka in 2005 with a match-up against the Philippines; v. Vietnam in 2006; v. Tanzania in 2007 and last year with the Moscow Bears, a contest which has been given a permanent place in ABA's annual calendar of events, with Colombo being the permanent venue. Moscow BC, in reciprocation, is to offer annually month-long training scholarships to two-three Sri Lankan boxers. As well, the SAF boxing championships was hosted in 2006.

The Everest of his five-year reign was undoubtedly Anuruddha Rathnayake's qualification for the Beijing Olympics, the first Sri Lankan boxing Olympian since H K Karunaratne's appearance in the 1968 Mexico Games. In some ways, Rathnayake's achievement is more commendable as he earned his Olympic berth by finishing fifth, out of 32, in the World Championships, no less - whereas, in 1968, boxers didn't have to qualify to participate in the Olympics; you're country's nomination was enough, which the Sri Lanka Olympic Committee did to Karunaratne on the strength of his status as Asian light-fly champion of 1967.

Much was expected of Rathnayake, but in the event, he did less than Karunaratne, who defeated a Mongolian by a t.k.o. in his first fight. Rathnayake was out-pointed by a Brazilian on the opening night - which brings us to why Gomes won't walk away from the ABA.

As he explains, with benefit of hindsight, expectations of a medal from Rathnayake in Beijing were far-fetched, a misreading induced by the 40-year absence from the Olympics. "We now realise winning an Olympic medal is a lot tougher, and know better the requirements for (achieving) it,'' said Gomes.

"The best thing to come out of Rathnayake's Olympic qualification is the impact it has on the other boxers. Four decades of failure (to qualify for the Olympics) nurtured a belief that the Olympics was beyond the reach of our boxers - but that mindset has changed. Now the thinking is that if Rathnayake can box in the Olympics so can we. I believe that if this new- found confidence is supported by investments in the physical preparations of the boxers, a medal in the 2012 Olympics is winnable.''

2012 Olympics

If boxing's health is so rosy-pink, as Gomes claims it is, and the services of a professional Cuban coach are available, then things ought to move on its own to the 2012 Olympics and the retired ABA president might watch it all unfold from the comfort of an armchair. Reality, though, is far removed from that scenario: boxing can't afford the retirement of Gomes. Said simply, without him, boxing will go broke.

The story about boxing accruing benefits from his position and reputation in the corporate world is an old one. Suffice it is to say that through his good offices in the mercantile sector, the ABA coffers have been enriched by Rs.10M. annually, and, just in case unforeseen expenses have to be met, he diverts earnings from his lectures on business and leadership to the ABA. Given that the ABA doesn't derive income by way of gate receipts - all meets are free of charge - means Gomes, directly or indirectly, funds boxing. Which is to say, he is boxing's "everyday Santa Claus.''

It is a role he'll continue to play even as a club representative on the ex co: He heads the ABA's fund raising committee. One of his last acts as president was to hand his successor a Rs.4M. sponsorship cheque from thread manufacturers American and Esirad Co. Ltd. As well, two boxers were dispatched to India for an international meet, while arrangements are being finalised for Manju Wanniarachchi to train in and box for a top boxing club in the US for two years. Also, training of boxers in Patiala Sports Institute and Cuba too are on this year's schedule -spin offs from his position (as Secretary of Business Commission) and that of Nivea Embuldeniya (Asian Confederation vice president) in AIBA, the world body.

A busy international program of eight contests, in Asia and Europe, await our boxers this year.

By any measure, it's an awesome legacy the new president Kiridene inherits, and with it tremendous responsibilities, too. It helps that he will have the experienced Lt. Col (Retd.) Hemantha Weerasinghe as Secretary and Grp. Capt. Nishantha Dhamadasa as Treasurer, both serving a third term. But then, with Gomes around, it's going to be pretty much Christmas every day in 2009 - for that matter, until the day Sri Lanka boxing wins its first Olympic medal.

A place in the ex co is a small price to pay for the man's pursuit of such a noble and expensive cause.  Roll out the red carpet for the 'lowly' club representative.

Atapattu takes Iswan Omar to the cleaners

By Lal Gunesekera

The big mouthed Iswan Omar, Senior Vice President of the Kandy Sports Club and representative of the Central Province RFU, was taken to task for his comments that sponsors are not recognising the Interim Committee of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) at a meeting where all Provincial Union heads met the two IRB officials (David Carigy and Gerrard Gallaher) recently.

The Secretary cum Treasurer of the IC for SLRFU, Kiran Atapattu, told The Sunday Leader that Omar is making a mockery of himself by "Opening his big gab" without knowing the facts. He said: "Caltex under Kishu Gomes continue to extend their fullest support and confirmed the sponsorship package of Rs. 6.8 million for this year, while another international sponsor has been found for the national team amounting to Rs. 5 million".

Atapattu went on to say that Iswan Omar was in charge of the Kandy 7's on February 7 and 8 at Nittawela and "Couldn't find Rs. 150,000 to organise the event and that the IC had to obtain an over draft to conduct the tournament; was it not a shame for this all conquering Kandy SC unable to find Rs. 150,000".

Atapattu also disclosed that Kandy SC were given Rs. 3.3 million out of IRB funds to conduct the Singer-SriLankan Airlines International 7's in September last year (2008), besides the nearly Rs 10 million from Singer. Air Ticket for the Touring sides (players and officials) was courtesy SriLankan Airlines. However, now its six months since the event and the audited accounts have not yet been submitted to the SLRFU. The SLRFU had also paid for the expenses of the Sri Lankan side training in Colombo amounting to Rs. 740,000.

He further said: "Omar is in charge of the CPRFU who were paid Rs 250,000/= last year as well as Rs 720,000/= as allowances for the Development Officers in the Central Province who include Gamini Udugama Rs 180,000/= W. B. K. L. Gunawardene Rs 90,000/=, Ajith Niyadagala Rs 90,000/=. Edema had written to the IC that he spent his personal funds for his team from Matale last year and not received any payment as a Development Officer. Where did this money go"?

"Omar boasts of 20 clubs in the Central Province, but only one club (Kandy SC) played in the Kandy 7's. Are the other 19 clubs just paper clubs? Dilroy Fernando has also confided with Dr. Maiya Gunasekera that a referee in the Central Province had been forced by Omar to give bogus match results to fool the previous administrators. This is a scandal which is to be inquired into soon" said Atapattu.

Laws of the country has to be followed

The International Rugby Board (IRB) sub-Law states that they (The IRB) wished to deal with democratically elected bodies, but the Interim Committee (IC) of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) impressed upon the two IRB officials  - Gerrard Gallagher and David Carigy, who were in Colombo last week (March 9 to 12), that there is no political inference at all.

This was disclosed to The Sunday Leader by the Chairman of the IC, Dr. Maiya Gunasekera, that the Minister of Sports and Public Recreation, Gamini Lokuge, had said that the previous Council of the SLRFU had violated its own constitution, accounting system was faulty and both the President and secretary of the SLRFU resigning from their posts within days of each other, the then council was defunct. The CEO too had resigned end December.

"Minister Lokuge told the IRB Representatives regarding these matters at a lengthy discussion and the necessity for the appointment of an Interim Committee to 'bail out' the SLRFU from its present predicament. The IRB Official had accepted the fact that there had not been much financial discipline" said Dr. Gunasekera.

Gallaghe and Carigy had also held discussions with the former President (DIG Lewke), former Deputy President (Asanga Seneviratne) and representatives of the Provincial Unions.

Dr. Gunasekera also said that the two IRB representatives had requested for the accounts for the last three years and also the minutes of Council meetings for the last two years, and that he (Dr. Gunasekera) had instructed the SLRFU office staff to release these reports to the IRB officials.

The Indra de Silva report and the Auditor General's report too were requested to be handed over to the two IRB officials, who left the island on Thursday (March 12).

"We are only doing our job which Minister Lokuge entrusted upon  us. Once we complete it, we will get out. We impressed upon the IRB that the laws of the country has to be followed whether people like it or not, and must do what it good for the people" said Dr. Gunasekera.

When The Sunday Leader attempted to elicit comments from IRB representative, David Carigy, this writer was told, 'no comment at this stage.'

Dr. Gunasekera has also told the IRB Representatives that the minutes of the AGM was not available. He said: "They wanted the salaries for the development officers paid with the money donated by President Rajapakse, but we told them that these monies were only for infrastructure development and not to pay salaries."

The IRB officials had said that they were eagerly awaiting the investigations into the audit queries and that the guilty should be punished if found guilty.

Admin. Manager at SLRFU law unto himself

By Lal Gunesekera

Is the Administrative Manager of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU), Senaka Colombage, a law unto himself? He reminds me of ‘Podi Sir’ of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

This is the opinion gathered by The Sunday Leader when this officer was requested for a copy of the constitutional amendments on Monday (March 9) after it was distributed to all Provincial Union Presidents on March 4.

The Sunday Leader made several attempts to get of a copy of the amendments for the past three weeks. The news paper was first told by Colombage that he has not been instructed by the Chairman of the Interim Committee for SLRFU, Dr. Maiya Gunasekera, and when Dr. Gunasekera wanted this writer to collect same from Colombage, the reply was "it is not ready".

The IC of the SLRFU, released the amendments to the Provincial Unions on March 4, and Colombage, had been specifically instructed to release the amendments to all media institutions too. Even the Bar Secretary (Jeremy David) of the CR and FC has been sent one by E-mail. The Sunday Leader was told by colombage on Monday (March 9) afternoon to "ask Maiya" is this the way to address the Chairman of the Interim Committee? The rude Colombage should under go a lesson or two in public relations!!

This could also be a clear indication of divided loyalties by Colombage. He was not only brought in by the previous administration but also accompanied the President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Referees Association (SLRFU), Dilroy Fernando, to Bangkok, Thailand a few weeks back was this as a token of appreciation for the work done by Colombage for the SLRFU? If this is the case, Colombage must realise that he is a paid employee of the SLRFU and not the SLRFU. Fernando is the former Executive Director of the SLRFU too. Over to you Dr. Gunasekera.

Remember how the report from the Auditor General’s Department was hidden for two days from the IC by the SLRFU office is there a hidden hand behind these moves to sabotage and bring disrepute to the IC?

Battle of the Blues

Thomians in creditable draw

S. Thomas' College Mount Lavinia staged a remarkable second innings performance to force a creditable draw to the 130th annual inter school three day Battle of the Blues cricket encounter against the traditional rivals Royal College concluded at the SSC grounds in Maitland Place yesterday.

The Thomians having been bundled out for 99 runs and asked to follow on came back into the game magnificently to reach an impressive 411 in their second innings.

This was mainly due to two superb individual batting contributions from skipper Ravinthiraja Nirushan and Faleem Saleem. This most experienced Thomian pair came into their rescue with a spectacular 209 run third wicket partnership that completely changed the complexion of the game.

Dynamic opener Saleem went onto hit a brilliant 165 and batted for more than nine hours while showing a great amount of concentration and determination. Saleem struck 15 boundaries and collected his runs from 425 deliveries.

Skipper Nirushan of course departed early for a well compiled 104 while adding only a solitary run to his overnight score.

 Royal: 313 for 9 decl and 42 for 3 (D. Walpita 2 for 17)

S. Thomas': 99 and 411 (Faheem Saleem 165, Ravinthiraja Nirushan 104, Chamod Pathirana 22, Lalindra Peiris 21, Sachin Peiris 22, Yasith Abeykoon 2 for 65, Haroon Maujood 3 for 58, Kithruwan Withanage 2 for 52)

Petes regain Peter Pillai Shield

St. Peter's College regained the Rev. Fr. Peter Pillai Shield when they outplayed their traditional rivals St. Joseph's College by 118 runs in their 35th annual Battle of the Saints inter school limited overs cricket encounter worked off at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday.

St. Peter's: 333 for 7 in 50 overs (Angelo Emmanuel 17, Angelo Perera 128 n.o, Shiwanga Ranasuriya 44, Chatura Peiris 83, Dinal Dhambarage 5 for 67)

St. Joseph's: 215 for 9 in 50 overs (Jaan Jayasinghe 44, Shameera Weerasinghe 41, Nishika de Silva 19, Shalindra Perera 43, Chaturanga Kumara 17, Vinod Perera 3 for 18, Angelo Perera 2 for 39)

Petes win Gary Melder Trophy

St Peters Over 40 team beat St Josephs in thrilling encounter to annex the Gary Melder trophy at the Darley Road on Sunday.

St Peters was led by former Peterite captain Senerath Seneviratne who is now based in Hong Kong. Having posted a challanging score of 153 runs in 25 overs largely thanks to good knocks from Anura Silva, Keerthi Gunaratne and Damian Thisaratchchi, Petes were given a scare when Joes scored 70 runs in their first 7 overs.

However, the spinners Sudath Kuruppu, Shabir Hussain and Gehan Siribaddana bowled micerly to choke them for runs.

Dilroy in top panel of arfu referees 

DILROY Fernando has been retained in the 2009 ARFU Panel of Referees, the only Sri Lankan in a list of 14.

But as many as four Sri Lankans figure in 22 named as Referees and Touch Judges by the ARFU. The four: Aruna Rantkothge, Nizam Jamaldeen, Aruna Jayasekera and D. Nimal.

The ARFU Panel of Referees is dominated by officials from Japan and Arabian Gulf, with five and three inclusions respectively. Hong Kong has two while the other five places are filled by one each from Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

This is Fernando's second year as Panel 1 ARFU referee since a grading system was introduced last year. The ARFU will draw from the panel's 14 members to referee its major tournament matches, chiefly the top two divisions of the Asian Nations competition.

Cricket - Inter-Provincial

Basnahira South well placed

Basnahira South were well placed at 202 for 2 in reply to Ruhuna’s massive first innings total 450 runs on the second day of their SLT Inter Provincial cricket tournament match continued at the Colts CC grounds in Havelock Park on Friday.

Ruhuna: 450 (U. Tharanga 265 n.o, I. Muthalip 37, L. Fernando 42, I. de Sarm 31, A. Priyanjan 23, A. Prasad 4 for 110, M. Siriwardena 4 for 31)

Basnahira South: 202 for 2 (L. Thirimanna 33, M. Siriwardena 98 n.o, C. Silva 50 n.o)

Kanchana hammers unbeaten ‘ton’

Stylish opener Kanchana Gunawardena hammered an unbeaten century and shared an unfinished third wicket stand of 204 runs with Nadeera Nawala (98 n.o) to put Kandurata well on course to a first innings victory over Wayamba on the second day of their SLT Inter Provincial cricket tournament match continued at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium on Friday.

Wayamba: 394 (M. van Dort 123, M. Udawatte 33, L. de Silva 49, J. Kulatunga 43, T. Perera 53 n.o, I. Udana 31, C. Vidanapathirana 2 for 86, S. Mohamed 2 for 81, D. Gamage 2 for 40, J. Mendis 3 for 60)

Kandurata: 219 for 2 (K. Gunawardena 109 n.o, N. Nawala 98 n.o, T. Perera 2 for 25)








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