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Badminton’s message of hope to war-torn Ampara

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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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Spoilsport

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Bombay Don hiding in Maldives

While Big Tom, 800 man and the Load of St. John’s Wood have all returned home from the neighboring country after the cash rich event abruptly ended recently, the Bombay Don has fled to Maldives instead. It is said that he is avoiding the seniors. The seniors are believed to be having an axe to grind with the Bombay Don for having used manipulative methods to keep them away from coloured clothing encounters. He cannot be hiding for too long and when he returns home all hell will break loose, seniors say.

It’s pay back time for toe-crusher

Fitness seems to be the buzz word these days and many are those who are licking their wounds unable to earn their living having failed to meet minimum standards. In that context, many are wondering the motive behind bringing the toe-crusher making startling exceptions. It is said that the
toe-crusher is the one who got Bombay Don his current job having recommended him to the richest family in the region. Now that Bombay Don is all powerful here, it is pay back time. A friend in need is a friend indeed, they say.

Why Crown Prince favours former boss?

The Crown Prince is doing all within his means to bring the former boss back to the hot seat. All logistics during international games have been given to the Crown Prince’s father-in-law by the former boss. Although many would consider it conflict of interests, the Crown Prince doesn’t think so. He has said that his father-in-law was in this business even before he had become the authority for all games. The Crown Prince has gone to the extent of backdating a gazette to save the former boss. Insiders say that having been responsible for his illustrious father’s political defeat in 2015, the Crown Prince is sealing the fate of his uncle too.

Sailors pulling out a concern

The nation had three brand new international venues after the sport’s showpiece event in 2011. With maintenance costing an arm and a leg, the authorities at that point reached an agreement to let the tri-forces look after the three stadiums. The sailors were in charge of the new ground in the hill capital and for ten years they had done a terrific job looking after it very well. However, now that the sailors had been moved out and maintenance given to a private entity, there are concerns that it will not receive the care that was once given. All in all, it was a good job by the sailors.

Kandy Mandela chases cops away

The man who was the ultimate authority on games ten years ago is politically ambitious. The name he has given himself is Kandy Mandela. (Nelson must be spinning in his grave). He had recently made a big noise claiming the famous 2011 final was fixed. But after Dubai issued a statement that they have no reason to doubt the result of the game, Kandy Mandela has been left with egg on his face. The skipper who is the Lord of St. John’s Wood now and knows his law is not taking it lying down. He wants action taken against Kandy Mandela and together with his colleagues has made a complaint to the newly established police unit that is investigating corruption in games. When cops had visited Kandy Mandela to record a statement, he had chased them away threatening them with transfer

Good job curator

The curator who was given such a hard time after the drawn first game is in good moods these days after the second game produced a result. The curator has been getting lot of criticism but he seems to have done a fair job in his role overall despite the surface receiving not so complementary rating by the game’s big bosses. Despite perceptions and appearances, the curator is said to be a good man.

Election by video conference

While many elections in games are postponed due to pandemic, those running the richest game want the election held on schedule. Efforts are underway to hold the election through video conference now. A sports body known for rigged elections and individuals voting against the mandate of the club, it remains to be seen how this year’s election will be conducted.

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Oneli wins Online Under 18 Chess Championship

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Oneli Vithanawasam of Lyceum International School, Wattala won the Online Under 18 Girls’ Youth Chess Championship as she scored six points to clinch the top award.

Vithanawasam played exceptionally well to beat Prasansa Premanath in the fifth round and drew with Esandi Newansa and Piyumi Uthpala in the last two rounds to finish the event with six points.

During the first four rounds she beat Hasandi Akuratiya, Miyuni Jayasinghe, Tenuli Dahamna Rathnayake and Nemindi Linaya Ramanayake. She was awarded the championship trophy and the gold medal for her outstanding feat.

Esandi Newansa of Dharmasoka College, Nemindi Linaya of Bandaranayake Central College, Veyangoda and Piyumi Uthpala of JMC International School, Kalutara were tied scoring 5.5 points. Newansa was awarded the silver as she was better in the tie breaker.

Esandi beat Sanuli Dulanya, D. T. Joachim, Chanindi Mewna, Desandhi Dhihansa and J. A. K. N. T. Indrajith and drew with Oneli Vithanawasam and lost only to Prasansa Premanath. Nemindi Linaya Ramanayake was better in the tie breaker against Piyumi Uthpala to win the bronze.

CFSL Online Under 18 Girls’ Open Youth Rapid Chess Championship 2021 conducted by the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka was held on May 8 and 9. A total of 36 players registered for the event which was conducted on seven rounds with the time control of 15 minutes and 10 seconds increment per each move played.

Final Standings of top 10 players were as follows.

Name Points

1. Oneli Vithanawasam (Lyceum International, Wattala) 6.0

2. Esandi Newansa (Dharmasoka College) 5.5

3. Nemindi Ramanayake (Bandaranayake Central, Veyangoda) 5.5

4. Piyumi Uthpala Amaratunga (JMC International, Kaluthara) 5.5

5. Premanath Prasansa (Girls High School, Kandy) 5.0

6. Desandhi Dhihansa Gamage (Sirmavo Bandaranayake BV) 5.0

7. Dulinma Hemalni Rathnayake (Viharamahadevi BMV) 5.0

8. Chanindi Mewna Attanayake (Devi Balika Vidyalaya) 4.0

9. DG Jayandi Bimansa (Bandaragama Central College) 4.0

10. J A K N T Indrajith (St. Joseph’s BMV, Kegalle) 4.0

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Sri Lanka cricket selection strategy and replacing the captain

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Taking out Dimuth Karunarathne from captaincy needs a closer look

In the best interest of Sri Lanka cricket and its progress I thought to pen a few words regarding the recent selection purely to give confidence to all concerned and hoping that it will be treated in the best interest of the game.

We all know that cricket in Sri Lanka is the only game that our country has gained world class status of which we are very proud of. Since it is a very competitive sport in the international arena, authorities in charge have a huge task to meet the demand locally and internationally. Starting from domestic to the national level it needs very careful and professional planning. There should be no short cuts taken and a very professional approach should be taken to produce results. “Winning is not everything but winning is the only thing.” This was what the famous All Blacks coach said to his team.

Whatever the sport, all players, coaches, selectors etc. should be very committed with command presence if they are to achieve success. To achieve identified goals, to get to that level each individual has to identify his ability, weaknesses, opponent’s strength and the determination to achieve the target.

Based on my above observation I am compelled to make my assessment on the recent selection of the captain of the national cricket team for the forthcoming Bangladesh tour.

Taking out Dimuth Karunarathne from captaincy needs a closer look. After a low West Indies Tour, under his captaincy Sri Lanka did well to win a Test series after a long time, where he faired extremely well as captain and specially as a solid batsman with an impressive record. One wonders why there is a need for a change in captaincy at a time like this when Dimuth was fairing extremely well. Further, when you remove a cricketer from the international calendar for a long period it is going to affect his form and his mindset. For a sportsman to perform well one of the most important aspects is confidence, continued exposure at competitive level. If you are out of it you have to start all over again and it needs sacrifice and mental preparation which I believe is not the challenge that he should face as he has come in as captain at a very difficult time and have performed extremely well, was in the process of achieving more. If you are going to groom a captain for the forthcoming World Cup this is not the time to remove and try others as he has shown good results and proved that he is a potential, affective captain material and also one wonders how come out of form Kusal Medis is accommodated as vice-captain as his recent track record won’t qualify him even to be a member of the national team.

Nimal Lewke
Former Chairman of National Sports Council

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