Sports Plus
16th January 2000

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Marawila's new sporting wonder

By Channaka de Silva

The beautiful and serene beaches of Marawila was the site for an important occasion when the opening of the new sprawling sports complex at German Sports Club took place. The complex will be a landmark in Sri Lankan sporting history as it will be the first ever venue for two new sports disciplines.

The air-conditioned new indoor stadium will feature Sri Lanka's first ever indoor tennis stadium while an astro-turf-laid court by the beachside will be Sri Lanka's first "Beach Football" venue. Interestingly the club, an affiliate of the Asian German sports exchange programme was also launched on the same day with the prime objective of upgrading the level of Sri Lankan sports at the same time.

The 27x45 metre court laid with Astro turf will feature facilities for both the new sport Beach Football as well as Beach Volleyball.

The indoor stadium will also feature a tennis court, four badminton courts or ten table-tennis tables. There will be facilities for Karate too.

The indoor stadium will be named the 'Jens Baudisch' stadium after a German boy who died two years ago while being in Sri Lanka as part of a visiting team under the sports exchange programme.

It was the Programme Chief's idea and will be a surprise for his parents according to Chairman Dietmar Doering who plans to send pictures of the opening to them.

The club hopes to have 200 members, most of them paid for but this will strictly be a non-profit making venture.

Instead, the club members will benefit immensely with rewards of German tours which would cost the club more than what it gets from members.

The financial benefits will come entirely from German visitors to the country who will play against the club members at the newly opened venue. This project is the brain- child of Asian German Sports Exchange Programme's Chairman Doering, a German national who has now settled down here and was once ranked among the top three Sri Lankan table-tennis players.

Having already invested more than Rs. ten million, an amount which Doering says would have given him better yields "even if it was just in the bank," Doering is however surprisingly enthusiastic about the venture.

"I am quite positive that I could find the 200 members, but it will be a gradual process," Doering said in response to a question whether it was realistic to expect people from around a remote area like Marawila to afford to pay the membership fee which sounds a bit too extravagant though it is not so in reality compared with the benefits the members get.

There are four types of memberships namely the Gold Card, Silver Card, Bronze Card and Ordinary membership which will charge 50, 40, 30 and 20 US dollars per month. Doering said he expects the members who pay this amount to come from a radius of 30 kilometeres from the Sports Complex. The members will get the chance to train themselves under the expert guidance of international coaches from Germany for all sports. The club has already secured the services of German coaches for this purpose.

Doering has introduced an additional advantage to members offering them tours of Germany financed entirely including the air fare, accommodation, food and travelling by the club. He said the cost of this tour will be more than what the member pays as membership fees. All the members will get this chance.

From time to time different German sports teams will visit Sri Lanka to play against the club on short tours while Club teams will also make trips to Germany now and then. The club membership will be limited to 200 with 30 each from Gold, Silver and Bronze card and 110 from ordinary membership.

The Asian-German Sports Exchange programme has already sent numerous teams to Germany in many sports since the programme was established ten years ago. Many of the Sri Lankans sent to Germany under the programme have been successful in securing professional playing contracts with German clubs and pursuing other interests such as higher studies as well.

Beach Football, which is a new concept is a very popular sport in European countries according to Frank Swolter, General Secretary of the Programme who is based in Germany as the chief of their mission there.

He said it is usually played on beaches or artificially built sand courts as European beaches are too chilly to play games for most part of the year.

He said still there are no official rules and regulations as the sport was introduced just two or three years ago.

Indoor tennis of course is one of the most popular sports in the world with most of the ATP tour players taking part in heavily paying popular indoor tournaments in Europe.

Doering has another big plan to develop sports through the club activities. That is spotting outstanding talents from among the schoolchildren and providing them with comprehensive sponsorship packages.

It will be a limited membership numbering to 10 or 15 and will be selected by German specialists through a rigorous selection procedure.

"During my stay here I have noticed outstanding talents going abegging in many sports in Sri Lanka. It was one of my dreams to make sure that they reached the highest international standard one day. This might be the first step" Doering said.

Having been in top table- tennis rankings of the country Doering knows exactly the bane of Sri Lankan sportsmen. It is the lack of continuity and enthusiasm in the sport they indulge in. Sri Lankans start practicing just three or four weeks before a tournament and end their training with the tournament. If you are to succeed you have to practice at least six hours a day, seven days a week." Doering said. He said the sponsorship winners of his club will do exactly that.

On the day of the opening the club gave donations of Rs. 100,000 each to schools St. Xavier's and Dhammissara as a token of their intentions to develop sports among the underprivileged.

Doering's job with the German Government as lecturer in Political Science, Economics and Physical Education will be lost if he stays in Sri Lanka for another five years. In five years he will have to decide whether he stays back for good or goes back to Germany.

But hopefully by then the German Sports Club will be playing a big part in producing international level sportsmen. It is a big gamble but Doering is optimistic.

KBR suggests amendments to Sports Law

By Bernie Wijesekera

The first minister of Sports K.B. Ratnayake was the architect for many firsts in the promotion and development of sports in the country when he held the reins in 1973. This included the birth of the Sports Law to control its affairs.

Sports in general since then has made much headway thanks to those who worked hard for its development in rural districts and thanks to the unstinted efforts made by the present Minister of Sports S.B. Dissanayake at grassroot level.

This was revealed by the then Minister of Sports, K.B. Ratnayake now the Speaker of the House when he inaugurated the Mini World Cup at the SSC grounds on January 10.

Speaker Ratnayake was the chief guest. Addressing the future young prospects drawn from 16 countries he said that it was a momentous occasion in the annals of Sri Lanka cricket where the country was able to host a tournament of this magnitude. He commended all and sundry, who worked hard to make it a reality and boost the country's image.

The Speaker, further stated that he, too has indulged in the willow-wielding sport whilst turning out for Hartley College, Jaffna, which team he captained besides indulging in football and athletics. He hailed from remote Anuradhapura. He once stated that he learnt much on and off the field whilst at Hartley. "We learnt how to fight against prejudice, fear and ignorance. There were no ethnicity or barriers unlike today which is a sad spectacle", stated K.B. Ratnayake on an earlier occasion.

Ratnayake, who belonged to the old brigade never mixed politics in sport. K.B. said cricket was still a gentleman's game and called upon the youth to maintain traditions at all cost. The final outcome was secondary.

Times have changed but its a lovely sport where I have learnt much on and off the field.

Today in our midst here there are participants drawn from various walks of life to match their skills. There is no caste, race or colour in sport, but all of you are here, to bring about understanding, fellowship and bonhomie, he added.

Turning around seeing Michael Tissera he said he was the captain of the Sri Lanka team when he was the Minister of Sports. He is a fine gentleman on and off the field. He took whatever decisions in the correct spirit.

Unlike in the past there are quite a number of young prospects on the wings to take over.

No one could hang on for too long, but must make way for the youngsters. Looking at Minister S.B. Dissanayake, he smilingly said you have done a good job. But now its time that you make the necessary amendments to the sports Law which was enacted during my tenure. Sports have developed fast. The past is now a mere memory. The present is known but the future is unknown. Speaker Ratnayake should be commended for this meaningful suggestion to add more muscle to the act.

Minister S.B. Dissanayake Rajmohan Dalmiya, president of the ICC and Rienzie Wijetilleke, Chairman Interim Committee also spoke.

Four boxers for Korean meet

The Amateur Boxing Association of Sri Lanka has selected a team of four boxers and two officials to compete at the Olympic qualifying boxing meet scheduled to be held in Seoul, Korea during January 17 to 28.

The team includes R.K. Sumith Prasanna, who won three gold medals at SAF games in '91 Colombo, '95 Dhaka and '99 Kathmandu. Sumith is also appointed as the captain of the team.

A warrant officer in the Sri Lanka Army, Sumith is a well experienced boxer and will compete in the light middle weight class.

M.M.D. Paris an airman in the Air Force will compete in the fly weight class.

Paris did proud at the second world military games where he was the only boxer who advanced up to quarter finals.

He is the present fly weight National champion and won the award for the most scientific boxer at the last boxing National.

N.B. Walisundara will compete in the feather weight class.

He won a Bronze medal at the last SAF games held in Kathmandu.

Walisundara was out of the boxing ring due to an injury but he bounced back at the Clifford Cup and Nationals and showed his powers.

C.L.K. Anthony of the Army will compete in the light welter weight. Anthony won a bronze at the last SAF games in Kathmandu and represented the Sri Lankan Defence Service team at the Second World Military games in Croatia.

Lt. R.K. Indrasena who was the Sri Lankan coach at the last SAF will continue as the coach.

He is the present coach of the Sri Lanka Army.

Sqn. Ldr Nishantha Dharmadasa who was the manager of the Sri Lanka Boxing team at the last SAF games will continue in his post.

He is the present Treasurer of the ABA and a referee and judge at present.

The team is scheduled to take wings to Korea on January 15. At present the team is under residential training at Panagoda Army Camp.

How fast was Sobers?

When Garfield Sobers called it a day, he had captured more than 200 wickets in Test cricket. No doubt there were many other bowlers who had taken more wickets than him and today there are three bowlers who have taken more then 400 wickets.

But what is unique about Sobers' feat, is that he took those 236 wickets bowling three different styles. Seem, orthodox finger spin and wrist spin. This unique ability to combine three different forms of bowling were more remarkable than his batting. Though Sobers was a superb batsman, there were, over the years many rivals. But there has never been, nor will there ever be a more complete bowler at Test level or for that matter at any level.

His bowling average in Test cricket was 33. Which was rather expensive. But the reason for this was that he was essentially an attacking bowler, who always bowled to get a batsman out, rather than to keep him quiet.

This was very evident when he was bowling wrist spinners and fast medium stuff. Also many of his Tests were played in the Caribbean where the wickets are more favourable to batting than to bowling.

Finally towards the end of his career, he was part of an attack that lacked penetration. Bowlers like Hall and Griffith were on the decline and this meant that he had to bowl too much, which in a way reduced his own effectiveness.

During the time that Hall and Griffith were causing havoc with their pace and Gibbs was the frontline spinner, Sobers was the support bowler for all three. It was he who had to come up the hill or bowl into the wind, and if the ball was turning, he would have second choice of ends.

And it is a certainty that if he had not used up so much of his effort in scoring more than 8000 runs in Test cricket, he would surely have broken every possible bowling record in Test history. There is no breakdown of how many wickets Sobers took in his three different bowling styles. Because at his peak he was always switching from one style to another.

Of his three bowling styles, it was as a fast medium bowler that he was most feared. His speed was derived from a beautiful body action. Classically perfect, head looking over the outside of his high right arm, left arm completing a full arc before chasing the right across the body and then a full follow through. It was while playing in the Lancashire League that Sobers started developing his medium fast bowling.

He found that he could bowl faster off a shorter run than most fast bowlers and it was not long before he was bowling as fast as Hall and Griffith. At first his success stemmed from speed, line and length. But later on he mastered the art of swinging and seaming the ball. When Worrell took over the captaincy, he realised how much more formidable the bowling attack would be if Sobers was to take on the responsibility of third seamer. But although Sobers had bowled some medium pacers in West Indies in '58-'59, it was not until the '60, tour of Australia did he come to be regarded as a fast bowler of Test match standard.

How fast was Sobers? This was difficult to judge. On his first tour to Australia he was really fast. But later after his second knee operation his speed dropped to around fast medium. However, speed was not Sobers' chief weapon. What worried the leading batsmen of other countries was his ability to swing the ball into the right hander and then make one swing away. He was able to achieve more swing and seam than Hall or Griffith, which was one reason why Worrell opened the attack with him and not Hall or Griffith if the conditions favoured swing. This Sobers did to good effect in the Leeds Test of '63, when he opened the attack in the England second innings and sent Mike Stewart's off stump flying with a swinging yorker. Geoff Boycott was another who came a cropper to this delivery time and time again. In the Trent Bridge Test in '66 he opened the bowling and trapped Boycott with an in-swinger in the very first over for 0. Another reason why Sobers opened the bowling was, to save time.

- Bruce Maurice

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