SLASU on...: “Two minutes late and Royal team is disqualified” | Sunday Observer

SLASU on...: “Two minutes late and Royal team is disqualified”

(Sunday Observer November 3, 2019)

I write with reference to the above article published in your newspaper last week. While we acknowledge the incident being referred to in the article, we regret to note that there are factual inaccuracies and the manner in which the article has been written in the opinion of the parties referred to therein.

As such, we would greatly appreciate if this right of reply is given the same publicity as the article.

1) The Water Polo match in question was between the Air Force team and the Royal College Union Aquatic Club – B team (RCUAC). RCUAC is a registered club of the national federation and consists of members, who may be old Royalists, present boys or even non-Royalists. The headline misleads readers referring to the school and reflects badly on the school who is not party to this. Further, the strapline “Air Force water polo run scared of schoolboys before being sunk by Old Thomians” is inappropriate, insensitive and sensational, more so when the Air Force team is composed of military service personnel of the country.

2) The team was not two minutes late! The match was scheduled to start at 8:30am and the team reported to the marshals at 8:38am. The amended schedule owing to the weather, etc was announced and made known to all participating teams and was accepted without any reservations. Any team who are serious about competing would have reported early, warmed-up and would have reported on deck prior to this time. Further, there was no effort on the part of the team concerned to contact the organizers at least to inform of the delay if it was owing to any unforeseen circumstance.

3) The ruling was not made by the Secretary of SLASU, but by the referees and the match officials. The Assistant Secretary referred to was the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the championships who consulted the Secretary and myself as the President to stand by the decision of the referees. Hence, the correct procedure was followed.

4) Water Polo in Sri Lanka is composed of a small fraternity of players and volunteer officials. It is no secret that due to the limited interests of volunteers to contribute to the sport that some have had to take on multiple roles. This is a known fact among all participating teams, something which was known even at the time of the draw prior to the commencement of the competition. In an ideal situation all participating teams should propose an affiliated referee like in the practice in other countries. It is inappropriate for teams to make these protests when some aspect does not favour them. The referee Silva referred to is an international FINA referee with experience having officiated at international competitions. The decision was correctly taken by him as per rule book.

Further, Water Polo in Sri Lanka is a non-professional sport comprising of amateur part-time athletes without a permanent national pool. Hence, SLASU limits its competitiveness to regional competitions at the highest level. We would appreciate if the teams uphold sportsmanship and respect some of these essential rules to enable the conduct and organization of these competitions and pass on a partial picture to the public.

Thank you. Sincerely,

Nethru Nanayakkara (President Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union)

Note by Reporter:

While it is acknowledged that the keepers of aquatic sports in the country have their authority, they have no right whatsoever to pontificate on editorial matters like telling editors and journalists how to report or headline reports and articles.

The Sunday Observer is read by a very intelligent readership that understands much better than those who are running water sports in the country which SLASU has failed to take note of.

For SLASU to declare that the report reflects badly on the school clearly shows how ignorant they (SLASU) are when most readers would have only had sympathy for the way a set of schoolboys were treated by the keepers of water sports in the country for being late by a few minutes when nearly everyone in the country from top to bottom don’t adhere to time schedules.

The fact that SLASU has even acknowledged that water polo is only an amateur sport should have been enough to grant the Royal team a few minutes Grace instead of demanding professionalism.

SLASU should also take note of the fact that most matches in the recently concluded Rugby World Cup commenced five minutes late in Japan, a country which has a world reputation for punctuality.

SLASU also talks about the Air Force team made up of military personnel. We don’t doubt this. But being a military man does not make anyone a great sportsman and all sportsmen have their weaknesses and fear of losing.

By also admitting that SLASU is limited by way of capable man power to run the sport, it is now very clear why a set of amateur schoolboys indulging in their boyhood passion had to pay the price for the shortcomings in the sport’s governing body that has paved the way for conflicts of interests on the part of officials.