Rinaz is the man to watch in the Peterite camp
By Shamseer Jaleel
St.Peter's are the firm favourites to win the Milo League this year. They have already stamped their class with a win against Carey (29-7) and then went outclass a gutty Nalanda outfit 74-5 minus four of their top players.

In the game against Nalanda they got their act together and collected their points from seven goals and five tries. They initiated some threatening moves putting the experienced Nalanda side under severe pressure. They had a superb season last year under the Sri Lankan cap Dilanka Wijesekera. St. Peter's have produced some outstanding players who have gone to don the national jersey. Shane Brohier, Graham Raux, Thusara Jayalath, Lenard de Zilva, Dilanka Wijesekera are few to name.

This season they will be having some tough assignment with teams like Royal, Wesley, St. Anthony's, S. Thomas', Isipathana and have to play their traditional rivals St. Joseph's. They have seven seniors in their side this year and about 30 players turning for practices. This year they are led by 2nd year player Rumaiz Ishak. He was was originally a scrum-half. He has now changed his position to centre. His deputy will be burly No. 8 Dhananjaya Nonis, a Sri Lankan youth player, who toured with the success with the Youth team to Asiad in Hong Kong last year.

Undoubtedly the best winger in schools rugby this year is Mohamed Rinaz. After learning his basics in the hill capital (St. Sylvester's), he has been representing the Peter's from the year 2001. Not only has he toured with the youth team for the Junior Asiad 2002 in Hong Kong but he was also in the senior sevens pool of 23 members for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong 7s this year. Rinaz who scored 11 tries in the year 2001 went on to beat Hishan Abdeen's long standing school record by scoring 33 tries in the following year. He was voted as the most valuable player at the singer Sri Lankan 7s organized by the Kandy Sports Club in the year 2001 and 2002.

Rinaz started the season in style by planting seven tries in only two outings. The good news for St. Peter's in that this crack winger can play for one more year. He represented CH & FC at the Under-24 tournament early this year with much success. He will be pairing off with hard running winger Rizni Razak who has shown lot of promise in the first two games.

Their forwards will be rock solid Dilshan Jude and the first year player Dhanushka Sandanuwan and Nadeeja Somaratne will be the hooker. Lanky Manik Hewagama and Suren Rajakaruna will be their line out jumpers. The flankers of the side will be Sajith Adikari with deputy skipper and Sri Lankan youth player Dananjaya Nonis will be the Number 8 of the side. Mahesh Fernando operating from the base and he will be pairing off with Dharshan Edirisinghe who will be the fly half. Skipper Rumaiz Ishak and Shanika Seneviratne are the speedy centres and wingers will be the best available in schools rugby this season. Lightning paced Mohamed Rinaz and Rizni Razak are the wingers and full back will be Mohamed Sheriff.

Hard working Sunanda Fernando who is an old boy is coaching Peter’s this year. He started his rugby career at Isipathana in 1991 as a flanker and ended at St. Peter's in 1995. He coached the champion side last year under Dilanka Wijesekera. Sunanda Fernando who was alo a good hockey player during his school days gave up and concentrated on rugby.

According to Sunanda Fernando the boys started practicing in December last year and the players are having a good understanding about others in the side. He will be assited by his deputy Kumarapperuma with Sunil Aponso as Master-in-Charge. Under their die-hard Rugby co-ordinatior Trinesh Fernando and ever supportive Rev. Father Ranjith Perera the Patron of Rugby, St. Peter's is the side to watch this season.

Young cricketers in the island to benefit
By M. Shamil Amit
The much wanted cricket academy for Sri Lanka has at last being realised when the Max Cricket Academy was opened by the Minister of Sports Johnston Fernando at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Thursday. The cricket academy is expected to benefit cricketers from around the island who are dreaming to become potential international cricketers in the future.

The Minister was garlanded by allrounder and up and coming cricketer Sahan Wijeratne who is one of the trainees selected to the academy. Minister Johnston Fernando speaking at the opening ceremony said that budding cricketers from remote areas are the hidden talents in Sri Lanka in all the sports. We should scout for more Sanath Jayasuriya's and Murathilaran's. He thanked the outgoing interim committee chairman Hemaka Amarasuriya for having started this cricket academy.

He further said that whoever who takes over the BCCSL should continue the good work done by the interim committe. The academy should be brought up to world standards like in Australia and South Africa who have immensely benefited. The interim committee chairman Hemaka Amarasuriya said the idea of establishing a cricket academy for Sri Lanka was mooted 20 years ago but it never materialised and he is proud to have made a start and thanked the sponsors Sony Max for coming forward.

Ranjith Fernando a person with many years of experience was of the view that school cricket in our country is so competitively played and given pride of place in the schools that each school run a mini cricket academy. The seven month training program would include training and development of scientific batting, bowling, fielding, mental skills, match preparation planning, coping with pressure, making and reading wickets, captaincy and game strategy.

The academy will in charge by six former cricketers who have been entrusted with the different fields Owen Mottau is the head coach with Champaka Ramanayake in charge of the bowling, Oshadee Weerasinghe spin bowling, Hemantha Devapriya will be the batting and wicket keeping coach while Ruwan Kalpage will be the assistance of the head coach and he will n charge of the fielding.

The first 19 players to be selected to undergo training at academy are Gamini Chandrakumar, Samidha Gallage, Janaka Gunaratne, Nuwan Kulasekera, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Lasitha Malinga, Jeewan Mendis, Tharanga Paranavithana, Dilruwan Perera, Dhammika Prasad, Dushantha Ranatunge, Ishan Ratnayake, Charith Sylvester, Amila Wettasinghe, Sahan Wijeratne, Omesh Wijesiriwardena, S. T. de Silva, M.S. Jayaprakash and R. Peiris.

W. Samoan Ox to prop up Army
By Bernie Wijesekera
The Sri Lanka Army Rugby team, who were front-runners in the Caltex Premier league 'A' tournament last year are making a determined effort to make an impact in the on-going rugby season. Already two Kenyans have joined the scrum to add "black magic' to the team. Both players are hard runners and has drawn much spectator interest with their elusive running.

To add more spice and flavour, the soldiers have got the services of a W. Samoan Bokesene Ox-Skuli (No. 8), who has played for the W. Samoan Dev. squad team with much success. Ox, who is hard as Oak is sure to add much strength to the granite hard Army pack. He was interviewd whilst practising at Galle Face. In 1996 he was playing for the W.S. Dev. squad team. Later, signed up with the Victorian Rugby Club as a professional. He has gained New Zealand citizenship. Married man with children, Ox lives in Melbourne, Australia.

What are your impressions about rugby in the Army?. They are good and very keen to learn. Their unyielding approach and possess a strong set of forwards. Though not big made, but faster, fitter, stronger and has rugby skills. They are prepared to run the ball. They have much understanding and I am happy to be with them. Some of the forwards are penetrative runners and play like backs. With a team, who are totally committed I like to enjoy a successful season.

This year the team will be led by Colin Rodrigo from Bopitiya Central, who learnt the skills after joining the Army. The present squad is being coached by 'Keep Fit' P.G. Gunawardena who has given his precious time for the game, be it as player, instructor or coach. He has served the game well.

According to Maj. Gen. H.M.N. Krishnaratne, last year's Army coach Asanga Seneviratne, was istrumental in getting the services of the three foreign players to boost the image of Army rugby. Army Commander Lt. Gen. Balagalle, Chief of Staff and President Army Sports Board, Maj. Gen. Lohan Goonewardena and other officers are giving all encouragement to further uplift the image of Army rugby.

Army have completed their five matches and heads the table. The morale of the team is very high. During the last couple of years they have indulged in a hard and open game. They are more disciplined and have learnt the latent rugby skills. The soldiers have shown much mobility in handling the ball.

The experienced halves combination Ajith Peiris, the fly half, the most experienced will pair off with Naufer Rahim. The back line Kapila Knowlton, Kenyan Edwin Sheminga, Vajira Jayatilleke, Parakrama Fernando. The forwards, Kotalawela, Rajapakse, Jayatilleke, Dharmapala, Madurusinghe are all seasoned campaigners. T.A. Silva will man the last line.

H.Karunaratne, is injured but he will be back for the crucial games said Maj. Dhammika Gunaratne Secretaryy rugby Last year the soldiers did well to beat Kandy SC at Galle Face. There is a big difference between the team that played in the late '90s. They have been tracking well with the support given by Brig. Jupana Jayawardena, who did much for the progress of Army rugby. Though in retirement, but still has the time to help them in their hour of need.

The past is forgotten - the new look team is playing with much composure. They will play to the whistle and adhere to the rules. Though most of the players are from the rural districts and has not played school rugby, but the future of sports at national level, be it rugby or otherwise is with them. Evergreen Brig. P.D. Ramanayake, one of the pioneers of Army sports will be there to watch them in the final round.

The Soldiers are being sponsored by Dialog GSM for the second successive year. The encouragement afforded by them has helped Army rugby to reach greater heights.

Sarah Fitzgerald guides Tehani
The five times World Champion and reigning Commonwealth Champion Sarah Fitzgerald who is also the Chairperson of the Women's International Squash Players Association [WISPA] has joined the Head Coach of the Victoria Institute of Sports Roger Flynn to guide Sri Lanka's brightest Squash prospect Tehani Guruge in Melbourne, Australia.

Tehani has successfully completed six weeks elite, high performance at the prestigious VIS recently. The mental strengthening and psychology areas of the sport for Tehani has been handled by the Tennis phenomenon Layton Hewitt's psychologist Dr. Noel Blundell while Tehani has also benefited from the VIS' Strength and Conditioning coach Chris Nick. Roger Flynn has been particularly impressed with Tehani's explosive power play at a young age.

Big boost for MCA
For the tenth successive year Singer will be sponsoring the Mercantile Cricket Association's A Division league cricket tournament which starts on June 8. The cream of Sri Lanka's cricketers will be taking part in this competition.

This tournament is the showpiece in the MCA calendar giving exposure to the talented players to indulge in competitive cricket at the highest level, said, Tyronne de Silva the President of the MCA at a media briefing, held at their Club house. De Silva who chaired the briefing was associated by Asitha Abeysekera - (Marketing Director), Ranjan Karunaratne (Singer) Ishak Shabdeen and Mahes Wijewardena (MCA).

He outlined the programme for the forthcoming 50-over league and the K.O. for year 2003. Five teams - namely, Hatton National Bank 'A' (the defending league and K.O. champions 2002), John Keells 'A' (K.O. R/up-2002) Seylan Bank, with some outstanding national players in their fold, Keells (league runners-up last year), Sampath Bank 'A' and Janasakthi Group 'A'. Ten matches will be worked off on a round robin basis, upto June 28.

K.O. semis will be on July 5 and the finals will be on July 12. All matches will be played at the NCC and Moors S.C grounds. Hatton National Bank has been dominating the 'A' league with several outstanding players in their fold. Postponements will not be permitted. The competition will be worked off on schedule, said de Silva. The participants will have to strictly abide by the rules.

The purpose of MCA cricket is to give exposure to young emerging cricketers to match their skills against seasoned counterparts. The MCA has appointed Match Refs. for every game. The players have to conduct themselves in an exemplary manner on and off the field and maintain the spirit of the game, De Silva added.

Asitha Abeysekera said that they were happy to continue with the package with the MCA for the10th successive year. His firm will give whatever possible assistance to sports to uplift the image of the country at international level. Singer, is totally committed for sport - especially cricket. -BW

Indian coach completes programme in Negombo
Sayandev Chakravarty the Indian tennis coach who has been hired by the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) on a one year contract concluded his first assignment in Negombo, Coach Sayandev has been given the task of developing junior tennis in the outstations.

The young trainees consisting of about twenty 10-12 year olds were put through a tough and comprehensive course practicing six hours a day. All were participants of the SLTA's mini tennis programme who underwent amonth long course.

Sayandev who holds a ITF level 2 certicficate graduating from the reputed Enrico Poperno Academy in New Delhi was impressed with the trainees of Negombo. He identified five players Mishal Sinnene, Taraka Sandaruwan, Damindu Dilum, Anu Donukshi and Sachini Iddamalgoda as players of immense talent and mentioned that quite a few players given the right training, nutrition and encouragement will turn out to be good players in the future.

Caoch Sayandev's next assignment will be in Bandarawela which is scheduled to begin on June 3. He will coach all eight mini tennis centres in the outstations namely Negombo, Bandarawela, Ratnapura, Kandy, Batticaloa, Kurunegala, Panadura and Jaffna.-MSA

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