High-powered Sports Council | Sunday Observer

High-powered Sports Council

30 August, 2020

The new Sports Council, high powered as it is, needs the trust of all sports administrators in the country to do what is right. Their guidance and decisions may not be altogether popular but one can bet that they will be in the best interests of national sports.

The first move that Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Namal Rajapaksa made has the makings of good decisions coming out from a respected group of persons with a track record of accomplishments and integrity.

Rajapaksa has earned loud applause from all quarters for appointing this committee purely on merit and no other consideration.

At the outset we would like to remind Rajapaksa that previous Sports Ministers too made a big song and dance and appointed Sports Councils. But other than for being there in name, little or no use was made of them. But Minister Namal means business and we look forward to action. What else can one expect with this team of illustrious persons called to national duty.

The National Sports Council is made up of Mahela Jayawardena (chairman), Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Dilantha Malagamuwa, Kumar Sangakkara, Uaswathi Muttetuwegama, Major General Rajitha Ampermahotti, Kasthuri Chellaraj Wison, Rowan Keragala, Julian Bolling, Thumi Abeysinghe, Amal Edirisooriya, Supun Weerasinghe, Sanjeewa Wickremanayake, Rohan Fernando and Rowena Samarasinghe.

A close study of their credentials shows that the Council consists of members who are experts in their chosen fields and are not square pegs in round holes and leave no room for nit picking.

They are all respectable and honest ladies and gentlemen. To use sporting parlance the Minister acting the role Chairman of Selectors has picked a brilliant match-winning team for sport.

After the appointing of the National Sports Council the Minister who means business made a creditable speech. “I intend to build the structure through this Council. Unlike the past this Council will be an unique one, which will be actively involved to build professional sportsmen.

“As an initiative, I suggested to them that the appointment of national selectors should be recommended to them, by the respective bodies after which I will place my signature to approve it.

“I will make sure that in future all teams and squads representing all sports bodies should be sent to this Council unlike in the past. Moreover, I will place my signature on their recommendation only,” said the Minister.

Chairman of the Council the irrepressible Mahela Jayawardena addressing the media said that he was happy to be appointed to this Council, which was the vision of the Minister to raise the standard of sports in the country, from the grass root level to national level.

“Our intention is to start up from the grass root level if we are to raise the standard to top level. We will prioritize the sport depending on the competition. We will discuss merging sports with the Education Ministry, which has to work collectively.

“Apart from these there is need for the changing of the Sports Law which is too old. We will look into the legal side of it and develop it to be conducive to us. It is going to be a long process, which I believe can be achieved with the support of the Minister,” the Chairman emphasized.

Mahela Jayawardena, one of the best cricket captains produced by the country and the second to score a century in the 2011 World Cup against India, richly deserves this honour. He along with Kumar Sangakkara are icons and legends in the game of cricket.

Recently at a meeting called by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss the feasibility of constructing an International Cricket Stadium in Homagama, in voicing their disagreement Jayawardena and Sangakkara emphasized the more importance of improving school cricket and the game in general that has nose-dived than building another stadium.

So the working of the Council will be closely watched by the crazy sport loving public and there is no doubt that the Council will bat with success and deliver and take sport to hitherto attained heights.

Soccer ace passes away

Although belated I wish to record mine and the sadness of all soccerites and soccer fans of a bygone era on the recent passing away of a football defender in MA Ameer, an illustrious Old Zahirian who had no peer during that time.

Ameer put on boots during the time when the game of soccer was at its best in the 1960s and 1970s. He stood like a stone wall and guarded the goal as though his life depended on it. No opposing striker, be it at school, club or national level, found him easy to go past.

In addition to his defending prowess he also had booming kicks which landed well beyond the opposing centre line.

Ameer captained the Ceylon Youth Team to the third Asia Youth Championship in Thailand in 1962. His vice captain was that will ‘o the wisp Tuan Nizam Hajireen and some of the players who made that team were Edward Wickremasriya, BHH Sally, PHS Albert, Basil Fonseka, goal keeper Ananda Wickremasekera, (brother of Sarath who is the State Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Govt. Affairs), E. Premadasa, T. Samidon, Tillekeratne and Dhinapala.

When a Brazilian soccer team Athletco Madurera visited Ceylon in1961, youth players Ameer, Hajireen, Sally Weerasekera, Albert and Wickremsuriya were included in the Ceylon team in the three games played. The team was led by Peter Ranasinghe with Hassimdeen who later became Asia’s best between the posts as goalkeeper and vice captain.

Ameer after quitting the game entered politics representing the Muslim Congress as a Western Provincial Councilor.

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