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Sports Ministry to put up shooting ranges in each district for school shooters

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NSSF president Shirantha Peries (right) and secretary Pradeep Edirisinghe (2nd left) with the Minister of Sports, Namal Rajapaksa.  

by Reemus Fernando

Plans are underway to put up three shooting ranges as the first step to provide shooting ranges in each district for school shooters, according to the National Shooting Sport Federation (NSSF).

The Ministry of Sports has responded to a request made by the NSSF to build new ranges for school shooters.

“The Sports Ministry will provide funds to build the shooting ranges. At the initial stage shooting ranges will be built in Colombo, Hambanthota (Hungama) and Gampaha,” NSSF President Shirantha Peries told The Island yesterday.

Putting up shooting ranges is part of the development plan to build a strong team to represent Sri Lanka at future international events.

“We need to form a strong team for future international events. We want to win medals in 2024. This is the base for that. After putting up the shooting range we will conduct coaching courses for School Masters and Teachers of the area who in turn will train shooters of their respective schools,” Peries said.

“At present school shooters are training at makeshift centres and have to be provided with facilities like shooting ranges if we want to win at international level,” said Peries.

The National Shooting Sport Federation (NSSF) presented their development plan to the Minister of Sports Namal Rajapaksa recently.

The Sports Minister on principal has approved the construction of one air gun range per district in order to facilitate school shooters. The final objective would be to have ranges in all 25 districts of the country that would be accessible not only to the students but also to the sport shooting community in general and the general public for leisure shooting.

According to NSSF the first three ranges will be completed by December 31.

The construction of these facilities will be done under the supervision of the president and secretary of the NSSF.

The project has received the blessings of the Ministry of Education as well. According to the Ministry of Education there are over 170 schools involved in sports shooting. Sri Lanka Schools Rifle Shooting Association is the affiliate schools association of the NSSF.

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Colombo win Super Over thriller in LPL opener

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Colombo Kings came from behind to tie the curtain-raiser of the Lanka Premier League against Kandy Tuskers and then held onto a tensed win in the Super Over at Hambantota yesterday.

There was lot of exciting cricket and Kandy Tuskers looked to be having the game in the bag but Colombo Kings snatched victory from the jaws of defeat thanks to some brilliant all-round performance from Isuru Udana, the only Sri Lankan to get an IPL contract this year.

 Set a stiff target of 220, Colombo were well on course as Dinesh Chandimal produced a fine effort posting 80 off 46 balls. The T-20 format often requires improvisation but Chandimal’s were pure cricketing shots as he showcased that he can still excel in the shortest format of the game without slogging.

Chandimal was guilty of throwing it away though as he sliced a Naveen-ul-Haq delivery to third man where Nuwan Pradeep completed the catch.

Colombo lost Thikshila de Silva and skipper Angelo Mathews in quick succession but the presence of big hitting Andre Russell kept them in the hunt.

But Nuwan Pradeep returned for a second spell to claim two wickets including that of Russell and soon Kandy were in the driver’s seat again.

But Isuru Udana threw caution to the wind smashing 34 off 12 balls including four sixes to tie the game.

Colombo needed three to win in the last ball but Udana could only manage two sending the game to a Super Over.

Colombo managed 16 runs in the Super Over and then Udana was entrusted to defend it and he did a terrific job as Kandy could only get 11 runs.

Kandy owed it to their skipper Kusal Janith Perera, whose splendid effort gave them a competitive total of 219. KJP top scored with 87 runs off 52 balls with nine fours and four sixes.

Together with Rahmanullah Gurbaz (53), KJP gave his side a good start. Kandy’s 100 runs came in the eighth over and from thereon, they only had to bat sensibly to set a daunting target.

In the end, it all proved to be insufficient.

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Successful staging of LPL would pave the way for other sports to resume – Dr. Lal Ekanayake

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by Reemus Fernando

Dr. Lal Ekanayake, the Director General of the Institute of Sports Medicine expressed hope that Lanka Premier League (LPL) cricket tourney which was scheduled to start in the evening yesterday would be the first step towards resumption of sports in the country despite a rise in the number of Covid 19 positive cases.

“Successful staging of the LPL tournament will pave the way for other sports to resume under new normal conditions. The sports minister too is looking at the possibilities of starting other sports events after the successful conclusion of the LPL,” said Ekanayake in an interview with The Island.

“The Covid 19 is unlikely to leave us soon. Experts say that this will stay for a couple of years. In such a scenario responsibility is on us to prepare ways to resume sports,” said Ekanayake.

“Even some countries which are worst affected by the pandemic have resumed sports under new normal. Sometimes there is confusion regarding health guidelines. But if we plan properly sports can resume,” opined Ekanayake.

“Many international sports events scheduled for next year will happen as scheduled. We cannot hold back. We are going to take part in these championships. The postponed Olympics is happening later next year. So are other international events,” said Ekanayake.

Ekanayake said that his institution was looking forward to support sports associations conduct their competitions. Sri Lanka Athletics is one of the hardest hit sports and the track and field governing body has scheduled the National Championship to December after the cancellations of many top level competitions throughout the year.

Ekanayake has expressed his views on resuming track and field sports on previous occasions as well. He has cited track and field sports as a low risk sports and has the ability to resume despite the pandemic.

Sri Lanka’s sportsmen and women are scheduled to take part in a number of international events in 2021 and 2022. Resumption of local competitions including national championships is going to benefit them.

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Diego Maradona – Argentina’s flawed football icon

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Dazzling, infamous, extraordinary, genius, outrageous. Diego Maradona. A flawed football icon.

One of the game’s most gifted players, the Argentine boasted a rare combination of flair, flamboyance, vision and speed which mesmerised fans.

He also outraged supporters with his controversial ‘Hand of God’ goal and plunged into a mire of drug abuse and personal crises off the pitch.

Born 60 years ago in a Buenos Aires shanty town, Diego Armando Maradona escaped the poverty of his youth to become a football superstar considered by some to be even greater than Brazil’s Pele.

The Argentine, who scored 259 goals in 491 matches, pipped his South American rival in a poll to determine the greatest player of the 20th Century, before Fifa changed the voting rules so both players were honoured.

Maradona showed prodigious ability from a young age, leading Los Cebollitas youth team to a 136-game unbeaten streak and going on to make his international debut aged just 16 years and 120 days.

Short and stocky, at just 5ft 5in, he was not your typical athlete.

But his silky skills, agility, vision, ball control, dribbling and passing more than compensated for lack of pace and occasional weight problems.

He may have been a whizz at running rings round hostile defenders but he found it harder to dodge trouble.

Maradona’s 34 goals in 91 appearances for Argentina tell only part of the story of his rollercoaster international career.

He led his country to victory at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and a place in the final four years later.

In the quarter-final of the earlier tournament, there was a foretaste of the controversy that would later engulf his life.

The match against England already had an extra friction, with the Falklands War between the two countries having taken place only four years beforehand. That on-field edge was to become even more intense.

With 51 minutes gone and the game goalless, Maradona jumped with opposing goalkeeper Peter Shilton and scored by punching the ball into the net.

He later said the goal came thanks to “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”.

Four minutes later, he scored what has been described as the ‘goal of the century’ – collecting the ball in his own half before embarking on a bewitching, mazy run that left several players trailing before he rounded Shilton to score.

“You have to say that is magnificent. There is no doubt about that goal. That was just pure football genius,” said BBC commentator Barry Davies.

England pulled one back but Argentina went through, with Maradona saying it was “much more than winning a match, it was about knocking out the English”.

Maradona broke the world transfer record twice – leaving Boca Juniors in his home country for Spanish side Barcelona for £3m in 1982 and joining Italian club Napoli two years later for £5m.

There were more than 80,000 fans in the Stadio San Paolo when he arrived by helicopter. A new hero.

He played the best club football of his career in Italy, feted by supporters as he inspired the side to their first league titles in 1987 and 1990 and the Uefa Cup in 1989.

A party to celebrate the first triumph lasted five days with hundreds of thousands on the streets, but Maradona was suffocated by the attention and expectation.

“This is a great city but I can hardly breathe. I want to be free to walk around. I’m a lad like any other,” he said.

He became inextricably linked to the Camorra crime syndicate, dragged down by a cocaine addiction and embroiled in a paternity suit.

After losing 1-0 to Germany in the final of Italia 90, a positive dope test the following year triggered a 15-month ban.

He returned and arrested his slide, appearing to get his act together to play in the 1994 World Cup in the USA.

But he alarmed viewers with a maniacal full-face goal celebration into a camera and was withdrawn midway through the tournament after he was found to have taken the banned substance ephedrin. (BBC Sport)

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