Two minutes late and Royal team is disqualified | Sunday Observer

Two minutes late and Royal team is disqualified

Air Force water polo players run scared of schoolboys before being sunk by Old Thomians:

Questionable conduct on the part of meet officials in awarding a walk-over to the Air Force team against the Royal College Union Aquatic Club (RCUAC) B team at the National water polo championship at the Sugathadasa Stadium last week has come in for heavy criticism.

The reason given for awarding the walk-over was put down to the Royal B team arriving two minutes late for their game against Air Force despite the schoolboys submitting a valid excuse for the two-minute delay in turning up.

On the first two days the matches had commenced at around 9.30 and 10.30 am respectively.

According to the Royal B team they arrived at the Sugathadasa Pool complex by 8.25 am and made their way to the changing area only to be told that Air Force was awarded the win just two minutes after the scheduled 8.30 am start.

The ruling was made by the secretary of the Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union (SLASU) who is a Wing Commander by rank in the Air Force.

The Royal B team had also made a protest against the Air Force coach Ajantha Silva, who is also a match referee for SLASU and stood to referee one of key deciding matches against OTSC and Royal.

Silva is also a referee and his presence to officiate at matches had put him in conflict with his interests in the championships.

But what was most hard to digest was that Silva was the only one who refused to accommodate the Royal B team despite all other teams in the fray submitting written consents to SLASU to allow the Royal B versus Air Force match to be decided in the water rather than a walk-over on the deck.

Some of the players of other teams told the Sunday Observer that SLASU’s image and credibility as a body supposedly promoting the sport had also been called into question for giving into threats and allowing conflicts of interests.

“The bottom line was that the Air Force team was afraid to lose to a bunch of school kids,” said one of the players from another team.

Two past players of Air Force who are also referees, M Ranasinghe and Janaka Silva were also seen as spoil sports who refused to fall in line with the other teams that had no objection in the Royal College schoolboys playing the match.

The two had reportedly threatened not to officiate in the championship if Royal was allowed to play.

In the end the Air Force team was sunk well and truly by old boys from S. Thomas’ College in the semi finals.

Royal College have officially brought the issue to the Ministry of Sports and are seeking justice.

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