Football champions Zahira sent home empty-handed | Sunday Observer

Football champions Zahira sent home empty-handed

The serious lapse on the part of the Ministry of Education forced Zahira College Colombo to return home empty handed after winning the all island football championship in Mihintale early this week.

But what was worse to bear was that after being told to collect the trophy in Colombo, Zahira College was shocked to find out that the so-called trophy for them was in fact reserved for a cycling event. Zahira beat Kinniya Central College by 2-0 in the tournament’s final and their players were told the trophy could be collected in Colombo raising questions on whether the official responsible for the lapse can be allowed to escape without action against him.

The tournament was organized by the Ministry of Education as apart of the all-island School Games.

According to officials of Zahira College the players were cut up at not being handed the trophy which is a customary practice at any tournament.

“We won the match but we were not given the trophy”, said Zahira College’s prefect of games Mushin Ariff.

An official in charge of football at the Education Ministry D.S.Nandasiri is reported to have told the players they could have the trophy when they get back to Colombo.

Back in Colombo Nandasiri had told the master in charge of Zahira College football that the trophy could be collected at a location in Campbell Park. Nandasiri according to a Zahira College official had given the trophy to one of his friends at Campbell Park to be handed over to them.

But to their utter disgust they found the trophy was reserved for a cycling event.

“When our master in charge of sports went to collect the trophy he realised it was a trophy to be awarded for cycling.

This is how some ministry officials work and I wonder how this will go down with the genuine officials who work at the Ministry of Education”, said Ariff.

He said they expect the Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam to investigate the matter.

Ariff said another big mistake the Education Ministry was making is to organise the remainder of the School Games at a time students are preparing for the OL exam.

“School children are very keen on both education and sports and they have been put into a very nasty situation”, added Ariff.

Manjula Kariyawasam, the director of sports at the Ministry of Education side-stepped the issue and refused to make any comment other than say he will “look into the matter” which is a familiar reply given by most responsible government officials.

The Zahira College team had to find their own accommodation and put up in a rest house after they refused to put up in a school where they faced the mosquito menace among other health hazards as did many of the players from other schools.