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Badminton’s message of hope to war-torn Ampara



by A Special Sports Correspondent

Sport is a wise tool to use in reconciliation activities. It comes in handy when participants are less affluent and have physical and mental scars; in this instance due to a civil war that concluded. Representatives of Sri Lanka Badminton (SLB) were in Ampara a few days ago to conduct a coaching session for coaches, but nothing could stop some children also ‘getting inside’ and participating in the two-day event held at the Ampara Public Indoor Stadium. The camp was held on March 20 and 21.

The coaching camp was organised by the Coaching and Promotions Committee of the SLB. What really caught the eye of the organisers was the physical conditioning of participants. The people present are used to hardships and they commute long distances on foot or by bicycles. “Hence the physical qualities needed for badminton are already there,” said Chintaka Fernando who conducted the coaching programme.

It’s after many years that Ampara is picking up in civil life activities. There is little facilities for sports and this programme was certainly a boost for the people in this town and those who also came from far away areas like Dehiaththakandiya.

Amapara knows more about a civil war than sports. Ampara was once ravaged by the civil war and history reveals how the Gonagala massacre took place in 1999 where 54 people were killed. There were many children among them and the killers were largely women LTTE cadres. But during the war too the town produced gems in the sports field who went on to represent Sri Lanka. Medal winners Damayanthi Darsha and Dileema Peterson are from Ampara and later continued their sports by coming to Colombo.

Once inside the hall and attending the camp the participants were eager to learn new things. It’s not that there was clear tunnel vision for them during the sessions. But according to Fernando what really pulled the heart strings of the participants was the technical part of the game.

According to Fernando the mission of the camp was to create a sports culture in Ampara and to educate coaches so that they know how to impart true knowledge. Thanks to the President of SLB Rohan de Silva sports equipment was distributed to participants. But the most valuable possession they got from the session was the ‘certificate of participation’ which they were entitled to after sitting for a written exam.

Some of the participants at the coaching camp held at the Ampara Public Indoor Stadium on March 20 and 21 pose for a photograph

The message that was given to participants from the SLB representatives was that ‘nothing comes easy before it’s hard’.

Nothing in success comes without the role of volunteers and philanthropists. The camp in Ampara was largely successful because of the contributions of parliamentarian Dr. Tilak Rajapaksa who hails from Ampara. All what he did was to a village where he schooled at initially before shifting to Colombo to continue his studies. Mention must be made of his coordinator Lakshan de Silva and the efforts of Sri Lanka Badminton’s Coaching and Promotions Committee Chairman Deepal Madurapperuma and its Secretary Lalith Perera and Trevor Rackerman the CEO of SLB. For the record this camp was the second in the series following the first one in Colombo.

This is an era where individuals, especially young ones, ask the question ‘what’s in it for me’ before undertaking any venture or project because we are living in a ‘me era’. Individual returns have top most importance and selfishness reigns in life, politics and sports. But many of the organisers who were involved sacrificed a lot, especially their time to stay at home with their loved ones, to give rural fork a real badminton experience.

These folk who participated in the coaching camp needn’t be given lessons on how to make their focus sharp. They are from an area where the human elephant conflict is a daily occurrence. People in the area know the best times to move around and avoid facing the wrath of the jumbos. The organisers of the coaching camp were housed at the Irrigation Bungalow. While at the bungalow these representatives were reminded that there was an elephant corridor close by and no one should park his or her vehicle and block that passage. Not very long ago a van had been damaged because it was parked in a way that it blocked the corridor.

Something that would be a cause for sadness is that there were no Tamil participants at the camp. Ampara has Tamil citizens who didn’t have the best of life due to the armed conflict that concluded in 2009. The organisers of the coaching camp had taken a Tamil citizen, Sivalingam Kethees, who was ready to translate the content in the sports literature that was distributed and what was said by officials at the camp. The absence of Tamils makes the orgnisers of the camp ponder whether there was lack of coordination among the sports officials of Ampara and the citizens of this Eastern Town.

The coaching camp was loaded, but the participants found enough energy and enthusiasm needed to last and absorb the content of the two full days coaching. When the dusk was setting in on the final day and when it was ready to bid goodbye the best thing that the organisers heard from participants, where the majority were coaches and sports officials, was that they would target to produce medal winners at badminton in the future.

They also made a request for the SLB representatives to visit Ampara again; possibly to show results from what they have learned and to strengthen the bridge that Colombo build with the Eastern Province thanks to badminton.

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The brand of cricket we want to play is free and relaxed:  – Sangakkara



The 2008 IPL champions employed five opening pairs in the previous edition.

As many as five opening pairs were experimented with by the Rajasthan Royals last season. Ahead of their season opener against Punjab Kings, Sanju Samson, the newly-appointed captain of the franchise says that this year around, more stability can be expected from the side that chopped and changed so much to the extent of being unable to settle on a side until much later in the tournament.

“Myself and Sanga will try to give the best combination,” said Samson on Sunday (April 11). “From my point of view, it’s crucial to give an individual or a pair of opening partners enough time in the tournament. So, I think a bit of stability will be seen in this tournament. The rest it depends on how we go.”

Much has been debated about the batting order. Whilst Jos Buttler’s record at the top speaks for itself, Ben Stokes has been their go-to man for the opening slot. With Robin Uthappa gone this year, will they persist with Stokes at the top with Yashasvi Jaiswal, or will they promote Buttler up to a position he loves? Without committing too much either way about their preferred sequence, Kumar Sangakkara, the director of cricket at the Royals said the combination will be a decision they will undertake with the “full buying of the players involved”.

“We look to finalise (combinations) later on today before we go for training and we want we want to keep our options open,” said Sangakkara. “The most important thing is that players are communicated to clearly as to what their roles are and get them to commit to it.

“What we planned to do is get a balanced side, everyone available, a full squad, try and have a consistent philosophy of cricket. The brand of cricket that we want to play is quite free and relaxed. Also in terms of preparing well and executing well… to get everyone prepared to think and to be problem-solvers. To think for themselves. It helps Sanju a lot on the field when people are thinking for themselves and know what’s going on. It builds a lot of trust within the group as well. Everyone has individual strengths that they bring into the side which are highly valued. We try and build that into a good unit where everyone knows what they’re doing, what their value is and what their roles are. Then we’ll go and try to play some good cricket.”

An overhaul in how the Royals went about their business was needed, having had finished last in 2020. Rajasthan just couldn’t crack the code of winning matches consistently and a lot of it had to do with the lack of the team striking together. There were moments of brilliance before they fell back.

“We have a lot of match-winners who are absolutely wonderful players…in Sanju Samson, Rahul Tewatia, our fast bowlers. The key is to have different people who do something a little bit special on the day and the point of a great team performance is to have your regular players performing consistently and once in a while. Someone stepping in to do a little bit extra. If it’s a different player most of the time and not the same person, it’s even better.”

Another area of concern last year was the lack of support from the contingent of pace bowlers around Jofra Archer, who was named MVP. Archer missing the first few games will be a big blow for Rajasthan. Sangakkara, however, threw his support behind the inexperienced Indian bowlers in their squad to come good.

“I think inexperience sometimes can work for you and against. Inexperience would probably mean that the opposition has not really seen them either, but fast bowling, specially in the IPL is not an easy task and we saw that yesterday as well. Sometimes the wickets are really good for batting or most of the wickets are, so you have to be quite skillful. So I’m pretty confident that our young fast bowlers will step up. We’ve had Kartik Tyagi who did very well last season in patches in various phases of the game and this year we have a new additions in Kuldip Yadav and Chetan Sakariya. So I think it’s about you know keeping them again focused on what their job is really and get them trained and prepared to execute all the different deliveries and scenarios and match plans for the opposition. But at the same time concentrate in giving them confidence of their own strengths.”

When asked if despite all his years in the game, the highs and lows, he feels pressure of expectations in his new role, Sangakkara didn’t mince his words.

“I think there are always expectations and pressure. You can’t get away from that and you got to accept it. And the only way you deal with it is really, you know ticking off the boxes that you want in terms of training, in terms of preparation, getting combinations right. Get the players involved take ownership of not their own roles, but also the team plans and that makes things a lot easier. You can’t guarantee what will happen on the day of a match, but what you can guarantee is that you can go out and control what you control. Take a great attitude out, and Sanju always talks about playing with passion and with heart. I think that’s a very important point as well. That can really lift a team to do some special things out there when the pressure is on.

“So for me personally, know my job is to get everyone ready and once they get on the field my job is actually secondary. It’s about them going out there and expressing themselves playing really good smart cricket. But we wait and see. I think everyone’s really looking forward to starting the tournament,” he added.



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Sheran’s back to back half centuries help Joes



Under-19 Cricket

Back to back half centuries by Sheran Fonseka stood in good stead for St. Joseph’s as they forced a draw to their First XI cricket encounter against S. Thomas’ at Darley Road on Monday. Thus they retained the Gilmore Jayasuriya Trophy which they won under the captaincy of Sameera Weerasinghe in 2009.

Commencing from 344 for nine overnight, the Thomians declared their innings after Yasiru Rodrigo completed his century, an unbeaten 103 runs.

It was Rodrigo’s day as he followed up his century with a three wicket haul to trouble the home team.

The Joes lost wickets at regular intervals but Fonseka’s contribution helped them post 176 for nine wickets declared. Soon they were asked to follow on but the open batsmen put up a healthy stand to prevent a repetition of first innings disappointments.

Fonseka scored an unbeaten 57 runs and was involved in a first wicket stand of 123 runs with Sadeesh Jayawardena who scored 62.

Meanwhile the match between Mahanama and St. Anne’s ended in a draw at Kurunegala after the home team posted 164 for nine wickets in reply to visitors’ 169 runs.

Match Results

S. Thomas’ V St. Joseph’s at

Darley Road

S. Thomas’ 344 for 9 overnight 350 for 9 decl. in 103 overs (Anuk Palihawadena 54, Ryan Fernando 71, Thenuka Liyanage 36, Yasiru Rodrigo 103 n.o., Gunaratnam Caniston 53; Dunith Wellalage 3/111, Shenuka de Silva 2/13)

St. Joseph’s 176 for 9 decl. in 51 overs (Sheran Fonseka 92, Mithira Thenura 20; Yasiru Rodrigo 3/48, Gunaratnam Caniston 3/42, Anuk Palihawadena 2/48) and 127 for 1 in 31 overs (Sadeesh Jayawardena 62, Sheran Fonseka 57n.o.)

Mahanama V St. Anne’s at Kurunegala

Mahanama 169 all out in 71.2 overs (Sadishan Chamodya 22, Pavan Rathnayake 81, Sachira Weliwatta 23; Pasindu Tennakoon 4/51, Manaan Muzammil 2/49, Kalindu Wijesinghe 2/28)

St. Anne’s 79 for 1 overnight 164 for 9 in 69 overs (Dilhara Deshabandu 39, Kavindu Ekanayake 43, Pivithu Fernando 22, Shevan Nimantha 20; Devindu Kekirideniya 4/57 ) (RF)

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Dahamdi, Esha win Round Robin stage



Sri Lanka Girls U-14 Chess Grand Prix 2021

Sanudula Dahamdi of Musaeus College and Esha Pallie of Visakha Vidyalaya were the winners of Group ‘X’ and ‘Y’ respectively at the end of the Round Robin stage of the Sri Lanka Youth Girls’ (Under-14) Chess Grand Prix 2021

Dahamdi was outstanding right throughout as she remained unbeaten to score nine points in nine games. Pallie won Group ‘Y’ with a score of 7 ½ points.

Dahamdi beat L.H.M.G.S. Somarathne, Nemindi Linaya Ramanayake and Sasmi Sithumsa in the second session to remain unbeaten.

Esha had a tough competition in last three rounds with a win against Piyumi Uthpala Amarathunga and a draw against Onwli Vithanawasam. She lost her encounter Tenuli Dahamna Rathnayake.

Nemindi Linaya Ramanayake( Central College, Veyangoda), Tharuli Vihansa Ranganath(Yoshida International School) and Oshini Devindya Gunawardhana (Pushpadana High School) scored 5.5, 5.0 and 5.0 respectively and managed to win second, third and fourth places in Group ‘X’ respectively by selecting to the quarter finals.

Oneli Vithanawasam (Lyceum International, Wattala), Desandhi Dhihansa Gamage (Sirimavo Bandaranayake BV) and Tenuli Dhahamna Rathnayake (Gothami Balika Vidyalaya) were placed second, third and fourth in Group ‘Y’.

Esha Pallie, Oneli Vithanawasam, Desandhi Gamage and Dhahamna Rathnayake are now in the quarter-finals.

The top four players in Group ‘X’ and ‘Y’ will play a knocked out rounds.

The Youth Girls Chess Grand Prix 2021 which commenced on April 2 with 18 leading Girls Under 14 Chess players will culminate on April 16.

Quarter Finals

A – Q/F 1 – X winner V Y 4th – Dahamdi V Tenuli

B – Q/F 2 – Y Winner V X 4th – Esha Pallie V Oshini

C – Q/F 3 – X Runner Up V Y 3rd – Nemindi V Desandi

D – Q/F 4 – Y Runner Up V X 3rd – Oneli V Tharuli

The Chess Federation of Sri Lanka is offering Rs. 55,000/= as cash awards for the winners.

The event is held according to the strict health guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health and The Medical Unit of Ministry of Sports.

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