14th January 2001
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Kandy S.C are primed for rugby action

By Aubrey Kuruppu
No matter a couple of losses in the early stages of last year's league tournament. That was an aberration. Kandy SC has taken over the mantle of local rugby's glamour team from the likes of the Havies, the CH and the CR.

To be the President of such a hugely successful club is indeed a prestigious matter to be the president for nine years (and to hold office in other important capacities for another four or five) defies imagination and speech - the man in this happy position is that genial and eminently approachable sporting doctor, Sarath Kapuwatte who was re-elected a few days back - Dr. Kapuwatte put his patients on hold as it were to answer a few questions for readers of The Sunday Times.

Q. Looking back on the last season, are you in all honesty happy with the performance of the club?

A. We had a few hiccups early on. But rugby-wise, we came back after finishing third in the league, to win the Clifford Cup. That triumph was due by and large to the infusion of your talent. No team can keep up the winning habit for ever. So it could be said I'm quite satisfied.

Q. Looking ahead to this year's tournaments what are your hopes and expectations? 

A. We've got a good young side and there's no reason why we should not do well. Nalaka Weerakkody, this season's skipper, will lead from the front and that should make a great different.

Q. Hemantha Yatawara's coaching duties have been taken over by C.P.P. Abeygunawardena - what occasioned the change?

A. CPP can devote more time to the task. He is a very experienced, result-oriented coach. In addition, he's very firm on discipline and a good tactician. All in all, I feel he's a good choice.

Q. A couple of years back you spoke of your building plans for the club. Have they been realised?

A. The new grandstand, the gymnasium and the other facilities bear testimony to this - Further we are just finishing work on the new dressing-rooms. They should be ready, come April. We are also presently extending and redeveloping the terraces.

Q. Whose responsibility is team selection?

A. The team is selected by the chairman of the rugby committee (Priyantha Ekanayake, one of Sri Lanka's all-time rugby greats), the coach and the skipper.

Q. Do you have any input?

A. (Sphinx-like smile) sometimes.........

Q. Your comments on the financial situation of the club.

A. We make around one and a half lakhs on a game at Nittawela. Sometimes, more - if the opponents are the CR, the CH or the Havies. We haven't found a sponsor as yet. In this connection, Malik Samarawickrema is a god-send a wonder where we'll be without his munificence.

Q. Are many past players involved in the affairs of the club?

A. Unfortunately, most of them are not. They haven't obtained membership. I for one would welcome more past players getting involved.

Q. There were murmurs of discontent prior to the AGM - Did that discontent find expression.

A. No. Not one post was contested.

Grand take off for Prokarts

Colombo Prokarts having given Sri Lanka a flavour of Prokarting, is revving to take off once again at the completion of phase II of this innovative project. 

Widely acknowledged as the cradle of motor sports, prokarting at Millennium Park was given a shot in the arm by the principal sponsors Caltex Lanka Lubricants Ltd., who has been spontaneously backing vibrant racing personality Richard de Zoysa, the architect of this spectacular racing and leisure complex. 

Colombo Prokarts will commence corporate races starting March this year where each sphere of business will be allocated a race day on Saturdays. It will be recalled that SriLankan Airlines set the pace by sponsoring the first corporate race for the Airlines other than these annual races which will muster goodwill and amity amongst the various fields of commerce and industry, the operators will conduct a national Prokarting championship consisting of six rounds. 

The Sunday Times who spoke to de Zoysa learnt that a platinum membership will be on offer for a limited number of active Prokaters who will be privileged users of an air-conditioned pool room with a lounge, motor sports on a projection TV and a bird's eye view of the Caltex Prokart Track. This membership will come to effect from April this year, which also includes 200 free laps each month. Caltex has shown interest in negotiating an involvement in this facility.

It must be remembered that race drivers in the calibre of Dinesh Deragoda, Randy Batcho and Danuka Nadeera developed their racing talents, racing Prokarts initially. De Zoysa was emphatic in stressing the need to provide the track for aspiring racing drivers who would have the opportunity to learn their racing lines on a scaled down formula 1 track. He will also be assisted by his close racing colleagues to conduct competitive racing instructions in Prokarting every Sunday morning for keen Prokarters. The Caltex Race Track would also be used to work off stress and have a thrilling drive. The track, which is fully renovated, from the original concrete surface with a fibre resin coating which is designed for speed and improved handling. 

State-of-the art timing equipment with display monitors, brand new customised bowman Prokarts - to be driven on race days, twin-engined karts for the absolutely daring are some of the additions that can be looked forward to in phase III of the project. 

Richard de Zoysa together with close associates Pradip Jayewardena - incidentally, the father of Prokarting in Sri Lanka and Dallas Martenstyn who was of invaluable assistance from the inception of the project are committed and determined to rise above assorted adversaries faced in phase I and Layout Adrenalin Pumping Prokarting Fare. 

The countdown is on!!!!!

Arun, Theekshana: future swim prospects

By Jatila Karawita
Mahesh Karunarathne who won the best swimming coach of the year award for 2000 says his main goal during his coaching career is to produce a gold medal at the upcoming SAARF Games through a Sri Lanka swimmer trained solely at home.

"Up to now in the history of local swimming and in SAARF Games our swimmers have won all medals entirely by training overseas and not here in Sri Lanka.

So my aim is to prove our critics wrong and show them that our facilities are advanced to train our swimmers for international meets and I hope that one of my charges - Arun Karunarathne - will clinch a gold medal at the SAARF Games," said Karunarathne in an interview with Sunday Times.

Karunarathne who has been in the forefront of coaching swimmers since 1983 has come a long way in his chosen field. Today he is one of the leading candidates to assume duties as national swimming coach.

Sri Lanka's sole representative to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 Theekshana Rathnasekere also has honed her skills under his training and the 38-year-old former champion distance swimmer from Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda feels the mentality of certain swimmers in the country has put paid to Sri Lanka making an impact at meets abroad.

"Some are of the view that if they do well here it is more than enough.

Therefore they think of recording the best timings at various national level meets.

But sadly they never realise the importance of continuing to do well away from our shores and that is what matters in the end," pointed Karunarathne who currently boasts of a private squad of all leading swimmers in the country.

Asked to comment on charges under him, he was quick to point out the name of Arun Karunarathne as a swimmer who is bound to go places in the future. Of Theekshana Rathnesekere, he said if the lass is more committed to her daily training schedule, she could also conquer new frontiers.

"I am very confident that Arun who is undergoing training with me will bring a gold at SAARF, but of Theekshana I feel if she can be more prompt with her attendance during practice sessions she will fare exceptionally well," stated Karunarathne who was also impressed with the ability of swimmers such as Dharshaka Tennekoon, Navin Karunarathne, Rukshani Gunarathne, Kusal Jayasekere, Piumi Ekanayake and Rashmin Gunarathne.

Mahesh, tracing back his roots as a swimming coach, said he owes a great debt of gratitude to Ranil Gunasena, the former national coach and former SSC swimming secretary Anil De Silva for the current position he holds as a swimming coach in the country.

"It was Mr. Ranil, late Mr Rizvi Zain, and a lady called Anita Assopheleez, who were on an outstation trip to scout for swimming talent in the early '80s and in one of their rounds I happened to catch the eye of Mr. Ranil Gunasena who identified my skills and gave me this opening," disclosed the grateful swimming coach.

He lamented the untimely passing away of former national coach Rizvi Zain, saying both Sri Lanka and Asia had lost a giant in swimming whose services will be irreparable to be filled. "Mr Zain was in a class of his own and what a storehouse of knowledge he had as a coach.

It is therefore rather unfortunate that he passed away at a time when his rich knowledge was badly needed to further improve the sport locally," said Mahesh who is presently involved in coaching the Elizabeth Moir International School, Visakha Vidyalaya, and D.S. Senanayake MV.

Mahesh, who is married to Ajantha Manawadu with two kids also acknowledged the necessary support he receives from his own parents apart from the constant encouragement given by the parents of swimmers who are under his wings which has seen him come thus far.

Looking ahead to the immediate future prospects of swimming in Sri Lanka the coach said a gymnasium was a crying need of the hour if swimmers are to compete successfully internationally and NAARSU should think of giving coaching expertise to local coaches abroad.

"We badly need a fully fledged gymnasium here. Also our coaches must be trained abroad if we are to successfully mould our swimmers to international standards," revealed Karunarathne who has gone overseas only once for a swimming meet to Bangalore, India in '99.

Before parting, Mahesh Karunarathne gave an advice to all and sundry if one is to become a good swimmer. "Parents must be keen if one is to succeed. Then the coach also must be keen if one is to scale the heights. But most of all what counts is the keenness of the swimmer concerned and if that is the missing link no one can come up trumps," truly words of wisdom coming from a master who knows his onions. 

Spectators lose interest in school cricket this season

By Bernie Wijesekera 
Gone are the days when there were big crowds watching school cricket wherever it was played. But today hardly there is a crowd to watch even a key game played between two leading institutions. Most of the games end in a stalemate as a result of playing safe 

Last weekend watching a much looked forward to match between Nalanda and S. Thomas' at Campbell Place there were hardly 100 fans watching including the participating teams. Not even the diehard old boys. 

Even the Wesley-Prince of Wales match, at Campbell Park too failed to attract any spectator interest. An old Wesleyite, who was watching this game said that professional coaches ruined the game by adopting defensive tactics. There are no declarations to bring about an exciting finish. Just plod on to the end to preserve their image. The youngsters too are not taught what the game is all about. Play attractive cricket and open out the game instead of playing defensive cricket. The same source said the present day coaches, who are paid playing safe. The players, too are more concerned of going for records. How many of the present day schoolboys are there who could walk into a national team at short notice unlike in the past. 

Even former old Thomian P.B. Bulankulame who watched the Nalanda - STC tie was disappointed the way the game was played sans spectator attraction. He said it was most disheartening to see just a handful of spectators watching school cricket unlike during his time. Even the old boys are not there. It could be attributed to competitive cricket - the season end limited overs final round. Are trophies more important than the game one fan asked. The youngsters must be taught to play the game in the true spirit rather than planing safe. It isn't cricket! 

The coaches main objective is to produce talented cricketers for the future betterment of the game. They must teach them and improve their skills. There are lads with suspect actions at the point of delivery. This was raised at a school match recently. Even the umpires tend to show a blind eye. 

Its here that the coaches must take notice and take remedial measures. Once these youngsters take to club cricket it will be too late to change their actions. 

Today even umpires have taken to coaching. Apparently some of them make use of their fellow umpires to win at the expense of some outstation schools. Even this has been brought to the notice of the hierarchy. 

Its time that the heads of schools take notice and take some interest to call upon the coaches and the masters-in-charge to play the game in a friendly atmosphere and build fellowship among the schoolboys of the respective schools. 

These are all friendly games. Otherwise the game is going to suffer in the longer run. The lads must be taught winning and losing is part and parcel of the game. The spirit of the game is more important than the final outcome.

The FFSL will move into its new hqtrs. in August

By Gamini Perera
Sri Lanka's control ling body for football - the FFSL - will follow the FIFA - the world's governing body for the sport - and will move into a new edifice soon.

FIFA was expected to move to the new Sonnenberg premises, FIFA House in August this year.

The Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) will move into its own headquarters, the opening of the first phase which is scheduled in the middle of May 2001.

The modern FIFA building, the FIFA House, is constructed on the Sonnenberg terrace. Since the beginning of year 2000, the general secretariat has had more space available in the recently converted former Hotel Sonnenberg. The reason for the expansion was the continually increasing demands that FIFA has to fulfil and the corresponding increase in the number of personnel required.

Just eleven

Back in 1975, there were just eleven people to administer the central office of world football. At present, there are over 100 employees putting their skills and experience at the disposal of FIFA.

The rate of expansion reached almost explosive proportions in 1999 when about 50% more staff was recruited. In anticipation of the increase, FIFA had decided in 1995 to expand its headquarters in Zurich.

The site of FIFA House, which offers one of the finest views of Zurich area is unfortunately in a residential zone, where permission to erect large buildings is unlikely to be granted.

An initial request for a permit to expand the original premises, built into the hillside was refused. But, the authorities made a useful suggestion.

The old Hotel Sonnenberg on a piece of land, immediately adjacent to FIFA House and belonging to the city was up for sale. This seemed to be the ideal solution to the problem and after a positive vote by the ever-democratic people of the city of Zurich, FIFA was able to purchase the property.

Elements of the game

As befits the organisation that is at the head of world football, the new premises incorporate certain elements of the game. The most evident of these is the newly designed entrance, whose metal frame resembles a football goal. 

Round lights and an entranceway, with granite floor has lighter sections in it, giving the visitor ascending the generously proportioned steps to FIFA's new home the impression that he is actually on a football pitch.

Baptism of fire

The baptism of fire took place on July 5, 2000, when the five candidates for hosting the World Cup - 2006, Brazil, England, Germany, Morocco and South Africa presented their cases to the FIFA Executive Committee. 

On the second floor, the general secretary has an elegant office from which he directs the administrative work of FIFA. Also located here are the four divisions - finance, marketing, competition and communication. 

President Blatter and his team have their quarters in the modernized FIFA House. According to Blatter: "No longer it will be referred to as FIFA House, but probably, the FIFA Village."

FFSL's cause

What is best highlighted in this article is the undaunted support and the unequivocal guidance those authorities concerned and the people of the city of Zurich gave FIFA for this project to finally materialize. In sharp contrast, we see our own FFSL still battling it out with certain authorities who seemed to have broken their pledge to support the FFSL and the poor man's game.

The Sunday Times fervently hopes that FFSL's visions of a new home as well as a venue of play to call its own will become realities in the not too distant future.

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