Sanjeeva - a brilliant player, modest individual
By Aubrey Kuruppu
It may sound strange, but Sri Lanka's foremost winger's first choice in sport was cricket. Sanjeeva Jayasinghe, who has sent many spectators into raptures, and many opposing defences to helpless surrender, with his blazing speed initially had visions of making it as a cricketer. He did in fact play for his school - Science College Mt. Lavinia - as an allrounder.

It was at this point that fate intervened. Almost all his classmates in the A/L class were sold on rugger. By dint of prolonged persuasion, they were able to drag Sanjeeva onto the rugger field. Jeffrey Saheed who turns out presently for Havelocks was one of those responsible.

Sanjeeva's career took off from there. He had just one season of school rugby and then threw in his lot with the Havies. His rise to fame and stardom was immediate. Picked for the Sri Lanka side in his first season in the Chocolate and Brown Jersey, Sanjeeva made his debut on foreign soil. He turned out for the Park Club with distinction for four years, captaining it in 2001.

Not born with the proverbial silver spoon in the mouth, Sanjeeva was playing with the idea of finding employment abroad when a lucky break came his way. He decided to bid goodbye to the Havies and instead hitched his wagon to the Kandy Sports Club star.

Sanjeeva is struck by the discipline and team-work at Kandy SC. He feels that it is due in the main to these two factors that his new club carries all before them. Half in just, he opines that picking the club side is more difficult than selecting the national side. Kandy SC has an experienced back division and everyone knows what's expected of him. He also speaks glowingly of the Havelocks sevens team (and Leonard de Zylva and Lakala Perera in particular).

Sanjeeva's most abiding memory is of scoring a try after a 65 metre run against the champion all blacks side. This was at the 2002 Dubai sevens. He remembers defeating Kenya 27-19 in the Bowl quarter final, and going under to Wales, after a close tussle in the semis.

Sanjeeva speaks with enthusiasm of the 2001 quadrangular at which Sri Lanka was captained by Asoka Jayasena and coached by Nimal Lewke - Sri Lanka beat Malaysia and Thailand at this tournament. At the Asiad Jayasena's team, of which Jayasinghe was an integral part, beat China only to lose to Singapore by a mere three points.

Sanjeeva singles out Lewke as one of the main factors in his rise to stardom. With a tremendous sense of modesty he says he's not perfect and that he's still learning from his coaches, and from every international match he plays. In fact, he makes it a point to ask Kandy SC's technical advisor, George Simpkin, after every match, how he played.

The talented and oh-so-speedy wing three quarter has represented the national team for five years. In that time he has toured Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Kazakhastan. Talking of the latter, Sanjeeva says that playing rugger in a heavy snow-fall was an altogether novel experience. Personally, Sanjeeva likes to play against foreign teams purely for the experience he can gain. Sanjeeva has just about recovered from a bad ankle injury which kept him out of all rugby for about eight months.

SSC Squash Open will add more flavour
Squash since its inception in 1981 has gone from strength to strength said the President of SLSF Air Marshal Ben Soza, at a media briefing held at the Singhalese Sports Club's third Open Squash Championship to be staged at their Sanjiv Mendis courts from May 3 to 13.

He was associated by the officials of the SLSF and Mohan de Silva, General Secretary of the SSC. This Open a ranking tournament, is organised and conducted by the Federation. At the inception there were only ten courts in Colombo, but today there are 110 courts among the clubs and schools. This "keep fit" sport in its wake has brought forth more regular competitions and had given that much needed exposure to the juveniles, juniors (both boys and girls) and for men and women in respective age groups.

There are quite a number of Lankans who have excelled in the SAF region. Like in other countries, this sport has not given playing opportunities to the less privileged, but confined to the affluent society. Yes. There should be courts in every community centre and the sport should be taken to the rural schools than confining to Colombo schools. In countries like India, Pakistan etc., the facilities are available for them.
Take the Services players. They are in the limelight, thanks to the opportunities afforded to rural youth after they have joined the Services.

Col. Sarath Jayawardena agreed that they should divert their attention to the Provinces and to make more courts available for them to indulge. Col. Jayawardena said, they hope to get the Sports Ministry assistance and even go to the extent of making use of the experienced local players of yesteryear to start a development programme. Entries close on April 30 at 5.00 p.m. with the Sec. Tournament Committee, SLSF, Sqn. Ldr. Jaliya Jayasekera at the Air Force Sports Complex, Bauddhaloka Mv., or at the SSC. The draw will be held on the same day at the SSC.
There are events for boys U-19, 17, 15, 13 and 11 (for both boys and girls). Open men's and women's, over 35 and men's over 45. - BW

Good referees are a must - Maher

Quite pleased with your local rugby referees. They have good control of the game and the ability to interpret the laws without let or hindrance, said Gerry Maher of the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). He was appointed by the IRB to conduct a three-day Level 3 Assessors Course, for the Asian region held at the Trans Asia Hotel here last weekend.

Maher was interviewed by The Sunday Times after the Arabian Gulf-Japan ARFU quadrangular tie, at Longden Place. Representatives from S'pore, Japan, Malaysia, Arabian Gulf, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka attended the course.

Irishman Maher, with 14 years of Div. I rugby refereeing conducted the course, assisted by Jarrad Gallagher, Regional Development Manager Asia. It was hosted (jointly) by the Sri Lanka Rugby Union and the local Refs. Society. Gerry said, the course was well organised by the Refs. Society headed by Tony Amit.

This assessors course is to help further the levels of refereeing in the Asian region. This will also afford them to officiate their matches in the region, by their own Refs. It will serve them to get that much needed confidence and the ability to handle the whistle without fear or favour.

That means not to be carried away by the crowds. Yes. There should be total commitment and self belief and mental toughness. Once you are at the middle forget about other issues - personal or otherwise. Maher said, if the game is to make headway and further develop, then the standard of refereeing has to improve.

Nizam Jamaldeen, who officiated the Arabian Gulf-Japan match had good control when the Japanese players went on a try spree. He had to run with the ball. Fitness plays a vital role in a fast open game. - BW

Dilroy has made it
Dilroy Fernando is a good International referee. He has been appointed by the IRB as a trainer assessor for the Asian region. If one works hard with dedication and devotion, then they could not only handle the whistle in the Asian region alone, but in other parts of the globe.

Sri Lanka is quite capable of producing quality Refs. to serve the game. The atmosphere for rugby here is adequate. Good facilities - ground. Plenty of talent. It needs proper planning. The management should work to a plan and look into player problems if there are any, Gerry Maher added.

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