Former rugby fly-half Roshan Mahanama on a crusade for stricken Chandrishan | Sunday Observer

Former rugby fly-half Roshan Mahanama on a crusade for stricken Chandrishan

Roshan Mahanama-Chandrishan Perera
Roshan Mahanama-Chandrishan Perera

World Cup champion turned welfare crusader Roshan Mahanama has thrown his fame and weight behind a push to sustain the healthcare of one of Sri Lanka’s most charismatic sporting icons Chandrishan Perera who is currently undergoing medical therapy in a wheelchair.

Mahanama, now an ambassador for several humanitarian organisations, wasted no time after hearing that rugby veteran Chandrishan Perera was struck down with Parkinson’s disease, a brain bleed and a weakened spine.

On April 9 a fundraiser rugby match will be played between all front-line Sri Lanka players of the present and future and Mahanama will be one of the patrons of the event at Havelock Park under floodlights.

“It is time that governing bodies of sports come together like this and initiate a sports fund with the Sports Ministry for all sportsmen who need support in retirement”, said Mahanama who unknown to many was a rugby fly-half and winger at Nalanda College before he rose to become probably the island’s best loved cricketer who stood on a World Cup podium in 1996. Never failing to speak up for a cause, Mahanama said he was perturbed to hear that some sporting icons of the past have nothing to fall back on after keeping the country afloat on the world stage unlike politicians who savour untold luxuries in retirement.

“Chandrishan was a great inspiration to me and the cricketing fraternity. If Ministers can benefit from Funds why not have a Fund for sportsmen and women who did their part. We have to nudge the Sports Ministry on this,” said Mahanama.

Chandrishan was the Sri Lanka cricket team’s pioneer fitness trainer in 1992 when there was little or no emphasis on the physicality of players unlike today when millions are invested in state-of-the-art gyms and experts.

He threw his weight behind the cricketers without seeking a cent and two players, Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva who were reluctant at the start learnt the importance of fitness and physical values as professional sportsmen.

The benefit match for Chandrishan was mooted by two former Sri Lanka rugby stars Rohan Gunaratne and Rohan Abeykoon.

Chandrishan will be present at the match where supporters, fans and benefactors will be able to interact and make their contributions towards his Medical Fund while members of the Sri Lanka women’s team that he coached will make an impassioned plea for donations.

Leading phone service provider Dialog, the main commercial partner of Sri Lanka Rugby along with other companies are backing the project.

Chandrishan had an early education at St. Peter’s College and moved on to England where he studied law and criminal psychology when a clergyman at a boarding school spotted his sporting talents.(see also page 27)