CS Ekanayake - Coach with a different approach
Tall, lanky Chandana Sisira Ekanayake (CS as he is generally known), was born, and raised, initially in Kuliyapitiya. He joined Dharmaraja in 1974 as a grade six student, and made his mark in Football, Rugger and athletics. He was placed second in the hudles event at the all island athletic meet. CS captained the rugger team in 1982, having played two seasons before that.
In his year of captaincy, they were able to gain promotion from B disivion to A. Kamal Sarchchandra, Nissanka Ranawana, S.S. Gunawardena, Nirmal Dharmaratne and Chandana Ekanayake were some of his team mates.
Leaving school he turned out for Kandy SC from 1983 to 1992, captaining the club in 1988. Among the more prominent players who lined up with him, CS mentions the names of Kalu Perera, Lanil Tennekoon, H.G. Ariyaratne, Athula Manchanayake, Nihal Ananda and Viper Gunaratne Jnr.
A member of the Sri Lanka rugby pool, CS turned out for the Barbanians against the University of Westminster. Having represented the up country team at rugger, CS later (in 1995) managed the up country side on their Indian tour.
Sri Lanka players Radhika and Saranath Hettiarachchi came under his wing when he coached Dharmaraja from 1993 to 2004.
Beating the Antonian side in 2000 gave him pleasure. More importantly, his Rajan side entered the semi finals of the A division all island tournament where they lost to Issipathana in the closing stages. CS laments the fact that his players were not regular at practices. In fact, he says seldom or never had the full team at practice on two successive days. The school laid great emphasizes on studies and consequently some of the players were on the horns of a dilemma. Fitness was affected by irregular attendance and the coach found it difficult to try out different combinations. This situation is different from the one prevailing in some schools where it is only rugger morning, noon and night.
He states that the standard of rugby produced by Kandy SC today is far superior to that produced by the club in the 1980s. There are more facilities for the players now and they are looked after very well. Practices are more systematic and methodical and, in turn, the players are more committed.
It is commonly believed that the success of the Kandy Club had rubbed off on some Kandy schools who have taken their game to great heights. CS takes a different view. He says the skill levels of the schoolboys have improved and this had contributed to Kandy SC’s dominance.
CS thinks that schools tend to use the pattern of play employed by the better clubs. The pattern has changed. There is much more forwards play. The opening out of the game depends on the strength of the opposition.
Back in the eighties, CS competed for the lock forwards positions in the national side with players such as Rex Anthony (Air Force) Ajantha Samarakoon (Police) and Saman Jayasinghe (CH & FC). Despite competing for the same positions, CS says that friendship was built among them. Today, it doesn’t happens to quite the same extent. Club rivalries, cross – overs may be contributory factors. The game, too, is much more competitive.
CS indebted to the game of rugger for making him what he is today. He wishes to point out that his former employer, Central Finance, was most cooperative during his playing career. CS has switched horses in mid-stream, as it were, and is presently working at Isuru Finance Company. - AK