It seems that the bells have begun to toll. This is not because Christmas is around the corner, but because Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has decided to dive through the quagmire of sports and crack the whip especially on those elected bodies that do not act as they should. Definitely it is a good omen. [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Sports is still in political shackles


It seems that the bells have begun to toll. This is not because Christmas is around the corner, but because Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has decided to dive through the quagmire of sports and crack the whip especially on those elected bodies that do not act as they should.

Definitely it is a good omen. All this time every sport-minded person in this resplendent island has been complaining about the interim committees and the obstacles that sports face because of them. They complained that the interim committees were directly appointed by the Sports Minister and the persons appointed had no obligation to the administrative body of the sport and as a result there was no transparency. In every sense of the matter what they were whining about was true.

In reality the Interim Committees were bad. Because the politicians used them as a wing to satisfy some of their yes-men and make way for them even to make a quick buck. It was not very long ago a former national cricketer turned politician was made the head of cricket after the individual agreed to toe the line with the government and say yes.

At the same time there was pressure from the world bodies of the sport to the government to lay its hands off sport and let them be run by their own administrative bodies. Alas! Nothing has changed. Now it has come to light that the same lepers, who drove the government towards the setting up of Interim Committees initially, are still occupying those same positions as before and are up to the same gimmicks in this sports masquerade.

An angry minister spoke to the Sunday Musings for the second time in a week. This time he revealed that many district associations of some main sports bodies were in deep slumber. They only wake up when there is an election. The minister said that of the 140-odd votes at Sri Lanka Cricket, about 60 come from the district associations. But there is little or nothing happens at these centres.

He said: “There is absolutely nothing done at these associations. They do not put any development activities in place. They do not conduct any district tournaments. In short I have found out that some of them even have not held their elections. But when it comes to a vote, they get TVs or washing machines and the vote is decided on that. Even at the Athletics Association it is the same. There are 52 district bodies, but meets have been held only at four districts.

“Now I have told them that they will not be able to vote at the annual general meetings if they have not performed. I am going to set up some committees which will directly report to me on this matter. The Association will not know who the members of these committees are. The same may apply to the clubs as well.

Good move. Even the Musings keep pointing out that from the voting masses of representing clubs and associations, all are not genuine. There are members who hold block votes and even go to the extent of blackmailing the candidates about the positions and favours they want. These are not secrets, but nothing is done about those anomalies. The worst is the block vote in the south which is held by a single person whose personal credentials are also quite questionable. Yet, recently we witnessed this same individual at a dais, distributing the awards at the end of an international sporting event. Can the spirit of the sport go lower than this? This was a question asked by many after the event.

Last week, the minister also revealed that he would insist that the recommendations of the Lorgat report be implemented. Some of these have already being done, like the CEO with a fresh look. The SLC executive committee which met on Wednesday decided to appoint some committees to sift through the rest of the Lorgat report and recommend ways and means of implementing them.

It is intriguing to note that it is the Chief Executive Officer who is going to be the person who handles the cricketing affairs in the future.
This means the hierarchy of the SLC who were globe trotters on cricketing matters will now have to confine themselves to the glass cages at Maitland Place while the CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket will be busy drawing up the next Future Tours Programme.

It is also nice to see what the top man who took the task of handling local media and did nothing about it is going to react to the recommended better relations with the fourth estate in future.

What we from the other side of the fence see is that the wheels of the machine have changed at present. There was a time when there were people of quality aspiring to be a part of the game’s machine and did become a part of the system voluntarily. But, now when there is a wind about an election, persons who need image cleansing or persons with other vested interests go seek political patronage to get their agendas met. Then once they occupy the seat they have to repay the political loan.

At the same time the persons who sit at the pedestal and run the show may not be willing to hand over the reins that easily. They know the magic of rubbing shoulders with Srinivasan and co. Then if a CEO is to be chosen to run the cricket aspect of it they make sure that the person who takes over the position would row the boat rather than rock it. What would occur is that the present seen hands are going to be the unseen paws that hold the puppets strings.

Just putting the Lorgat report into action for the name sake is not the answer. There should be a true CEO who really has the powers to take decisions. Decisions that are taken by the appointed CEO should be binding. It will not be that long especially when the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer is made. Then we could see whether it is just a case of an illusion or a decision that is taken with the future of Sri Lanka’s cricket in mind.

Then coming back to the minister’s action, what we see is that the administrators at every nook and cranny are still mere puppets who are there on some agenda. What we like to see is these sports entities running at full steam with the participation of the insiders and running on a pre-set programme for the betterment of the sport leaving no room for the political lobby to interfere.

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