My mother, the most important person in my life – National football captain Sujan Perera | Sunday Observer

My mother, the most important person in my life – National football captain Sujan Perera

3 October, 2021

National football team captain Sujan Perera told the Youth Observer recently that they are trying to find success at the South Asian Federation Football Championship.

I met him before the team’s departure to Saudi Arabia for training, to discuss his achievements and his ambitions.

Q: To begin with, when did you take to playing football?

A: I began to learn about football when I was in Grade three. My brother used to take me to the playground and Dilan sir was my first coach. He taught me many things.

Q: You are the goalkeeper of the national football team. Did you begin your career as a goalkeeper?

A: Yes, I started training as a goalkeeper. Dilan sir never tried to change my decision.

Q: Is it true that as a junior player you represented the country in various age group teams?

A: Yes. I did it. I represented the under-15, under-17 and under-19 teams. Those are milestones in my football life.

Q: How did you find success? Was it easy at the beginning of your career?

A: No, it was not easy. The Football Federation tried to groom a team in the under-13 age category. Every district selected a team and I was lucky to represent the Kalutara district team.

After that I faced the first trial to select the under-13 national team. But, they told me that I was too short and not suitable to be a goalkeeper. But another trial was held and the Federation called me to participate in it.

Sumith sir also was there and I was selected. My beginning was not easy. It was a very hard one indeed.

Q: Why did you choose to become a goalkeeper?

A: In my childhood I loved the position of goalkeeper. I always dreamt of becoming a goalkeeper one day. That dream took me on this journey.

Q: Do you remember the year you were selected to play for the t senior national football team?

A: I started to play for the national team as a goalkeeper in 2011. I was 19 at that time and I was elated that I got the chance to represent the country.

Q: Is it true that in the early days your mother accompanied you whenever you went for practices?

A: Yes. My mother was behind me all the time.When I was selected to the under-13 team she accompanied me to the training camp. My coaches used to ask me whether I never went anywhere without my mother. She was always behind me because she loved me very much.

Q: When and where were you born?

A: I was born in 1992 in Aluthgama.

Q: Tell me something about your family background?

A: My father, mother, elder brother and elder sister are the members of my family.

I am npw married and my wife’s name is Maleesha Perera. We have a daughter, Elisha. I have a lovely family.

Q: Your father is an artiste. Am I correct?

A: Yes. He is a very talented sculpture artiste. However, I love sports, not sculpture. I have not followed my father’s footsteps.

Q: What sports do you like other than football?

A: Swimming is my first choice after football. Other than that I like to do exercise.

Q: What are the things you prefer in normal life?

A: I am a very calm person. I don’t get into brawls and I love my freedom.

Q: Which international football team do you admire the most?

A: Manchester United is my dream team. In my childhood my mother gifted me a football jersey with the name Manchester United printed on it. She is the person I respect the most in my life. Without her support I would not have come this far in football.

Q: So, after you played for the national team, you decided to play professional football?

A: In 2015 I got the chance to join the Maldives professional football league. It was another milestone in my football career.

That year a football workshop was held for the junior team. The coach who conducted the workshop invited goalkeepers of the national team to take part in the workshop. So, I too participated. Later the coach invited me to join the Maldives Perfectional League football tournament.

Q: Did you agree to it immediately or did you discuss this with several people?

A: I thought about it and discussed it with my family. At that time I was not married. But, I asked my fiancé too. Everyone close to me asked me to take the offer as it would help to gain more experience.

Q: How did the decision affect your football career?

A: It was very positive indeed. In 2016 I was selected as the Best Goalkeeper. I played in the Maldives until 2020. During my stay I learned a lot of tactics, to be fearless when the going was tough.

Q: The national team has a new coach. What do you think about it as a captain?

A: It is very good. After our new coach joined the team I was participating in his second camp. Everything has changed for the positive. We have big support staff. The Football Federation is spending a lot to improve the team. We also have many facilities and are keen to win games. I am very happy about this positive environment.

Q: What do you think about our football future?

A: I think the prospects are bright. Sri Lanka will also launch a professional league in the future. After my contract in the Maldives was over I joined the Upcountry Lions Club.

As a footballer I see the Federation’s attempt at team motivation and standard of coaches as high. It is a very positive approach for progress.