World Cup cricketers, celebrities honour humble Chandrishan | Sunday Observer

World Cup cricketers, celebrities honour humble Chandrishan

Members of St. Peter’s College rugby team afford Chandrishan a guard of honour assisted by his former club mate Tony Amit
Members of St. Peter’s College rugby team afford Chandrishan a guard of honour assisted by his former club mate Tony Amit

Celebrities and commoners alike came together at sunset to pay tribute to a man whose exploits on the rugby field created a new horizon and motivated many more in a career that spanned fifteen years and snowballed into a further 24 years as mentor, administrator and coach.

Among them were former cricket World Cup winning champions Roshan Mahanama, Chaminda Vaas, Romesh Kaluwitharana and Aravinda de Silva who made their way to Havelock Park on Tuesday where a fundraiser match kicked-off as Chandrishan Perera who is now confined to a wheelchair was honoured in the presence of Sports Minister Harin Fernando and the hierarchy of Sri Lanka Rugby.

As the match was being played between the present and future players in preparation for next month’s Asian Championships, Chandrishan was the focus of attention while his former Sri Lanka team mates and club contemporaries along with members of the women’s team that he coached greeted him in emotional scenes.

“Life is what you make of it. If you believe in your heart that it can be done, then it is possible,” he told everyone present that included the rugby team of St. Peter’s College where Chandrishan had his early education before pursuing law studies in England.

The Peterites gave him a guard of honour dressed in dark blue signifying the veteran player’s favourite colour while another veteran at hand was Summa Navaratnam, Chandrishan’s first coach and one of the fastest men in Sri Lanka.

The women’s players too, were attired in dark blue and most of them stayed with Chandrishan throughout the match as some held back tears not knowing how to thank a man who took them from a bunch of village girls struggling to make a living to a Silver Plate at the Asian championships five years ago.

Donations poured in that will foster Chandrishan’s medical Fund but to him what mattered most on the day was that he found himself in the company of people he loved and trusted and who in turn knew they were honouring a man that earned his goose and was right on target in everything he did.

“I can tell you what an honour it is to be here with you. Thank you everyone and God bless”, he said.

Chandrishan bows out with a record that is as unique as the man himself.

He wore the Sri Lanka jersey at many an international rugby match and captained the Sevens team with distinction. He played cricket for the Combined Universities in England, was a head selector, coach and executive director of Sri Lanka Rugby and the physical fitness that he drove into the Sri Lanka cricket team made them World champions four years down the road.

In retirement Chandrishan will be a happy man or happier that sport never made him rich. It was the other way around.