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“A Doyen of Sri Lanka Hockey”

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“Just call me DENNIS” a retrospective on Hockey in Sri Lanka will be launched on the 13 of February.

On Saturday the 13th of February the Book – “Just call me DENNIS” a retrospective on Hockey in Sri Lanka will be launched at the BRC, Havelock Park, Colombo 05, organized by the Mercantile Hockey Association.

Dennis a doyen of hockey in Sri Lanka has served the sport at it its best and leaves a legacy to inspire a generation of future hockirites.

Double International Chandra Schaffter in his message, mentions “There is nobody connected with the game of hockey as I have known it over the past 60 years who contributed more towards this than my friend Dennis De Rosayro. Dennis rose high in the ranks of club hockey players and is one to be respected.”

The book captures the interesting feats of hockey greats and wizards of the sticks in a pictorial story having played against immortal legends like Dhyan Chand, Balbir Singh and Leslie Claudias. Records on Sri Lanka games with Olympic teams and the Asian circuit. The inaugural Hockey Nationals and its history to date is useful material for the future custodians of the game in the country.

HE represented Sri Lanka in the Corera Cup, which was virtually an annual tournament between Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu and Bangalore states. This was the level of Sri Lanka hockey then.

After having retired as Shipping Manager after a 40 year stint with Heath & Company, Dennis also served with the Janashakthi Group and into full retirement from Idac (Pvt)Ltd.

83-year-old Dennis, a doyen of the sport was the President of the Mercantile HA from 1978 to 2007 and still going strong, was the first captain of hockey at St. Benedict’s College in 1954. He played for BRC from 1954 to 1978 and All-Ceylon as a schoolboy against the Indian Olympic team in 1960 and against Pakistan in 1961, having represented Ceylon before in 1955. He was also a member of the Colombo Malay Cricket Club hockey team that toured South India, the first overseas hockey tour by a club in 1971 which comprised of some hockey greats. Serves currently as the Patron of the Burgher Recreation Club and an Honorary Life Member of the Mercantile Hockey Association.

His involvement with the game did not end when he retired as a competitive player, instead he continued to coach and or manage the BRC, MHA, CHA and Sri Lanka teams. Dennis goal was to give back to the sport he so loved so much. Numerous students have attested that Dennis has shaped their work ethic. His life and work were an example to the youngsters, many of whom would go on to achieve great things.

The book relates interesting anecdotes of his career. One of the highlights of his college career came about when he led the college team that played a hockey match against the prestigious Burgher Recreation Club(BRC) team in 1954. The BRC team had seven players who had international experience, including Asia’s Best Goalie, Freddy White, as well as Hugh Aldons and Ivan De Krester, all of whom captained Sri Lanka in later years. The accomplish team was unable to beat the school team and the match ended in a 4-all draw. Young Dennis surpassed all expectations netting the ball three times against this star team that day.

Captaining and coaching the Colombo Hockey Association(CHA) team in their tours to participate in the All-India invitation tournaments in late 60’s and early 70’s, he recalls the “Father of Hockey” the late Mr. Walter Jayasuriya who Managed the team.

Former Sri Lanka Hockey Captain Subash Fernando of Old Bens fame quotes – ” I know Stanley(Fernando) was trying his best to emulate you and I followed him. You were one of the greatest and stylish players I have ever seen. Unfortunately, we played on opposite sides. But you will not know how much we adored you as a hockey player and most importantly as s good citizen. If we had not seen you play, I do not think we would have reached half the standards we did. “

A legend by no means in the field of hockey in Sri Lanka, has dedicated a life time to the sport he so cherished. A strong believer of performance with integrity. During Sri Lanka’s historical tour between December 1959 and February 1960 to South and North India, ‘Dhayan Chand’, famously known as the ‘best ever player’, and his equally famed younger brother ‘Roop Singh’, came out of retirement to play for Jhanshi District Hockey Association. Their match against Ceylon drew over 10,000 fans. The Ceylon Captain Mylvaganam magnanimously asked Dennis to toss the coin and play center half in the match, which ended in a nil-all draw. After the match Dhayan ranked Ceylon about No. 05, in the world after India. Pakistan, East Germany and Holland, along with England and Malaysia and some continental countries.

The first book of its kind of Sri Lanka Hockey compiled provides readers with some in depth history of hockey in Sri Lanka, twisted with some hockey anecdotes to indulge in interesting reading. The book about Dennis and his adventourous journey in parallel captures periods the time the game was held in high esteem in the country and its formal administration to its current status. Sri Lanka having once enjoyed the position of third challenger in the Asian region to India and Pakistan was highly respected hockey playing nation then. Of course, the course of the game has changed with time, however India and Pakistan continue their challenging positions in the world. The game is continued to be played widely in the country.

Say’s Dennis; ” I wish to a leave a legacy for the nation on which future building blocks could be explicitly planned to bring back the glory of the game once enjoyed as a nation and slot Sri Lanka back as a challenger once more”.

Dennis has contributed his skill and talent for the benefit of the nation, a true son of Sri Lanka. The Book ‘Just call me Dennis” is a chronicle of this episode.

 

 



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Super Rugby 2021 Aotearoa

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by Rajitha Ratwatte

We are still in summer in the Southern Hemisphere and international cricket is still being played here in Aotearoa – New Zealand. However, the rugby season has started, and we are into our second week. I guess the media Moghuls have to keep getting richer and certainly we are seeing lots of great running rugby due to the drier conditions.

There are a few new rules being trialled in this largely domestic tournament. Among them the captain’s challenge, a rule that allows 10 seconds to implement and has resulted in the appointment of co-captains, one from the forwards and one from the backs. More on that later.

We saw a game between the Waikato Chiefs and Otago Highlanders played on Friday evening. Chiefs of course being captained by the All-Blacks captain himself, Sam Cane with co-captain, Brad Webber the busy half back or scrum-half as we used to call them. Webber got a run with the All Blacks in preference to the incumbent understudy T.J. Peranara, last year and gave a good account of himself. The Chiefs were also trying out a new no10 Bryn Gatland, pinched from the Highlanders. This probably means that Damian Mackenzie will start at full-back this season, something that he (Damian) may not be too happy about. Liam Squire who was recovering from hip surgery and resulting complications was also starting at no6, a welcome return for a great-hearted player.

The Highlanders were being led by veteran hooker Ash Dickson and the co-captain was Aaron Smith who incidentally didn’t start the game, with new boy Folau Fakatara being picked in the no 9 jersey. Fakatara is a highly talked-up player with a rather fancy hairstyle (reminds me of the tail of a bird of paradise!) who played well but failed to show exceptional skills. The Highlanders were playing in white jerseys and khaki shorts which may be a suggestion for our Police or Army teams back in the Pearl. They looked rather smart. The Highlanders also had Jonah Nareki who had shown so much skill last season at no11, the old number of no doubt, the person whose first name he had been given.

The Waikato Chiefs were tipped by almost everyone to win as they were at home albeit without the loud cowbells of the home team due to Covid 19 restrictions. One factor that should have tipped off any punter was that Sir John Kirwan, the well-known ex All-Black winger tipped the Chiefs to win. JK is also known to get these things horribly wrong and will find it hard to live down his prediction of an Argentine loss to the All Blacks before that historic win by the Pumas!

Things started off on cue with Sam Cane earning a penalty off a ruck within 22 seconds of the start and Damian Mackenzie slotting it with ease. The first 30 minutes or so belonged entirely to the Chiefs and they raced to a 20 – 6 lead. The Highlanders were penalized continually and had two yellow cards dished out, including one to their skipper Ash Dickson. The Chiefs made maximum use of having an extra man on the field and scored twice in quick succession during this period. The only weak link in the Chiefs seemed to be their no10 Gatlin, who consistently made mistakes and made one too many when an attempted chip kick, in the opposition 22, was smothered by the opposition, ended up in the hands of Jonah Nareki who ran the length of the field and scored a try against the run of play. This could be called the turning point of the game and even though the Chiefs still had a healthy lead 20 – 11 at half time, this resurgence of spirit combined no doubt with an expletive-laced “talking to” from their coach (his own admission) at half time saw an amazing turnaround.

The Highlanders didn’t take kickable penalties in the second half and chose to kick for touch and go for the attacking line outs. Shannon Frazelle the All-Blacks blindside flanker who had been steady in the first half was showing more fire and commitment. Five minutes into the second half the hard-tackling Chiefs center and All Black, Lennert- Brown injured his arm and had to go off. “Bird of Paradise” no 9 Fakatava wormed his way through traffic and scored a try for the Highlanders in the 49th minute and was promptly substituted by the one and only Aaron Smith! What a player to be able to bring on at this stage of the game to add weight to a great fightback. The score read 20 -18 with the Chiefs still in the lead.

From this point, it was the Jonah Nareki show! First a scything run, at the end of which he found the inspired Shannon Frazelle, who strolled over the line. They say Nareki has low hips and is hard to tackle, be that as it may, the loss due to injury of hard tackling Lennert- Brown may have also contributed as Nareki kept coming in off his wing and running through the midfield. Nareki completed a hat trick of tries and took the Highlanders to victory with the final score reading 23 – 39.

However, there was one more drama in store. The captain’s challenge or captain’s referral is a new rule that allows the captain to challenge a decision by the referee once during the game. The captain has only 10 seconds to do it in. Hence the need for co-captains in case one of the captains is detained elsewhere in the field. The Chiefs scored a try almost at full time, but the run of play had led to one of the Chiefs players going into a tackle “leading with his arm” a possible red card offense that was missed by the referee. Aaron Smith was quick to point this out to the ref and the resulting video check showed this challenge was valid. The try was disallowed, and a simple penalty awarded to the Highlanders. This was the first time this trial “rule” was invoked. It needs a few more instances to prove its worth.

The overall refereeing was good with the officials even spotting crooked throws into lineouts, which was refreshing. Usually, the referee stands to one side of the line out and misses these offenses. The commentators tried to insinuate that a large number of penalties and yellow cards awarded against the Highlanders were excessive but when the highlanders got their act together in the second half, things returned to normal. In fact, it may have been these penalties that resulted in a better second half of rugby. Jonah Nareki is a name to remember for the future! Even though the national team has a wealth of wingers, this young man can even play center and is certainly a better choice than Ricco Ioane of the Auckland Blues, who seems to be being groomed for the job and is nothing but a no 11 or 14.

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Methvan wins U14 singles title

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SSC Open Ranking Tennis

Number two ranked Methvan Wijemanne overcame a set defeat to beat Tharuk Marasinghe in a all-Royal final to win the Under-14 boys singles title of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament in Colombo on Sunday.

Wijemanne scored 2-6, 6-2, 10-4 in the final to beat the third seed. While Wieemanne beat number five seed Sandas Usgodaraachchi in the semis, Marasinghe eliminated top ranked player Lisal Goonetilleke in a Royal-Thomian clash.

In the men’s doubles final Yasitha de Silva and Sankha Atukorale beat Thangaraja Dineshkanthan and Gayanga Weerasekara 6-3, 6-4.

Meanwhile, the semi finalists were found in the Under-18 boys’ and girls’ singles yesterday.

Anithra Dharmarathne, Ruvi Lewkebandara, Wishmi Serasinghe and Nelani Jayasuriya secured semi final places as they won their quarterfinals.

Hasal Ahangama, Matheesha Nettasinghe, Ransath Peiris and Anujaya Abeywickrama advanced to the semis in the boys category.

 

Results

 

Under-18 girls’ quarter-finals

Anithra Dharmarathne beat Senulya Wijayawardhane 6-4, 7-6 (5)

Ruvi Lewkebandara beat Nishka Vivekanandan 6-1, 6-0

Vishmi Serasinghe beat Oneli Perera 7-6(5), 6-1

Nelani Jayasuriya beat Sethmi Sumanaweera 7-6(4), 6-3

 

Under-18 boys’ quarter- finals 

Hasal Ahangama beat Wenuka Kithnula 6-3, 1-0 retired

Matheesha Netthasinghe beat Nisal Hemakumara 6-4, 2-6, 10-8

Ransath Peiris beat Heshika Perera 6-4, 7-5

Anujaya Abeywickrama beat Vichinthaya Nilaweera 7-6(4), 7-5 (RF)

 

 

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SLC to make cricket most popular sport among girls

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Cricket is by far the popular sport among boys’ schools. On the contrary, cricket doesn’t even feature among the top three popular sports among girls’ schools.  While netball remains the number one sport among girls at schools, they also give preference to basketball followed by swimming and athletics. Apsari Tillakaratne, the convener of women’s cricket, is on a mission. Her plan is to make cricket the most popular sport in school.  That’s one of her long term plans. 

Apsari also has short term plans. The foremost of them is to pick a decent team for the upcoming ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh in December. 

She had her plans set in putting up a formidable outfit for the first ever Under-19 World Cup for girls, but those plans received a severe blow due to the outbreak of the pandemic.  Now she goes about her business meticulously, visiting schools and encouraging interested young players.

The support she has received from District and Provincial coaches and the talent search manager of SLC has been enormous. Sri Lanka Schools’ Cricket Association and the Ministry of Education have also provided full support for her efforts.  

With December in mind, there is not enough time to put through teams at schools. Instead, her plan has been to encourage individual players and direct them to coaches. District and Provincial Cricket Associations have been tremendous help as Apsari reaches out to outstations where there are many talents.

While doing all these activities, strict health guidelines have been followed as safety of players and coaches is paramount.   

Apsari does keep an eye on schools and those who are in-charge of the sport at schools for the enthusiasm they show and if there is keenness, she is happy to invest on those schools as a start. 

The interest for women’s cricket has grown by many folds in the last decade and these initiatives will surely help create more awareness. 

The interest for cricket among girls has gone through the roof in the last ten years. Regular ICC events in both 50 overs and 20 overs being conducted are one such reason and more importantly these games are televised nowadays. 

India has taken a huge lead in promoting women’s cricket given their recent good showing in global events and more girls are taking part in cricket.  Sri Lankan girls like Chamari Atapattu making it to the Big Bash League and other televised franchise based events is creating interest and you will see more and more schools taking to the sport. 

Cricket among girls at schools has been promoted through Big Matches but as we move forward Apsari sees the need to have regular competition for girls.  Parents who are keen to see their children taking part in sports tend  to channel their little ones  to cricket when they see regular competitions being held.

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