Plus - Appreciations

Badminton star whose game was as good as his looks

Raif Jansz

Raif Jansz passed away on Saturday, October 16, 2010, in Melbourne, Australia. Raif was a fine and elegant badminton player – a sportsman par excellence. He seemed not to take the game seriously, but he was a champ nonetheless. He had a great sporty attitude. All players wanted to be a “Raif” on the court. His game was as good as his looks, which added to his charisma. His strokes were natural and effortless. He was a treat to watch.

We played wherever we found space – in warehouses, rice stores, and so on. A Wellawatte resident, Raif had his schooling at St. Lawrence’s School, Wellawatte. He married Pam, a student of Methodist College, Kollupitiya, in 1960.

Raif’s badminton achievements were many. To mention just a few memorable occasions: In 1949, we had the honour of playing against the Malaysian national team, winners of that year’s Thomas Cup championship, when the team was returning from England after their victory. Ceylon was not a member of the International Badminton Federation.

The matches against the Malaysian team were played in a rice store in 44th Lane, Wellawatte. Raif was on our team. Raif won his first open title at the Cosmopolitan Sports Club open championship, held at Fernando Road, Wellawatte, in 1952. He defeated A. R. L. Wijesekera, the 1951 winner. Raif won the triple crown, partnering A. Vythalingam in the doubles and Nanda Wijesekera (nee Nagasinghe) in the mixed doubles.

The same year I won the junior singles title, defeating N. Rasalingam, and won the doubles with N. Rasalingam. Raif was the National Singles champion in 1954 and 1956, and a Doubles and Mixed Double champion on many occasions. In 1955, he lost his title to N. Rasalingam, but won it back in 1956.

He also won many championships in the YMCA tournaments. He also represented Ceylon at the Thomas Cup Badminton Championships, the only world badminton team championships.
In 1954, the Thomas Cup team comprised P. Sivalingam (Captain); Raif Jansz; Sam Schoorman; R. P. Nadarajah; V. Narendran, and N. Sugunadeva. Raif was also in the 1957 Thomas Cup team, and was the national singles champion in 1956. In 1957, he was beaten by me in the quarter finals of the national championships.

Raif and his wife and two children migrated to Australia in the early 1970s. My wife and I met Raif and Pam in Melbourne in 2002. We recalled our happy days on the badminton court. The lessons we learnt on and off the court are still with us.

I also met Dick Schoorman, V. Sri Skandarajah and Tony Dickson, all former Thomas Cup players living in Melbourne. Raif was a talented musician as well. He played the piano in a band with Harold Seneviratne and Ivan Andree, and in Melbourne he played for a popular band called the Four Sharps.
Raif will be remembered as an icon in local badminton, and as a dear friend in our hearts. This can never be erased.

Sam Chandrasena

A dedicated Lion

Premachandra Pathirana

Past District Governor Lion Chandra Pathirana was the epitome of neatness, punctuality and precision.
He was one of the two founder members of the Lions Club of Colombo Orient and I have never known him to be late for a meeting, be underdressed or unprepared.

Always dapper with not a hair out of place, he was the one everyone turned to when a moot point was in dispute or when protocol had to be adhered to. Nothing escaped his notice and he always called ‘a spade a spade’. But correct behaviour in others never wanted for appreciation. He noticed and he praised.

He has bequeathed to his three children, two daughters and a son, the qualities of hard work and attention to detail that were his and they all have excelled in their chosen professions. His children and grandchildren were his pride and joy and the latter were grief-stricken when their beloved grandpa was no longer able to chat with them.

Every Sunday was their day to spend time together. Now it’s their turn to comfort their sorrowing grandmother , the strong and capable Lion lady Manil who courageously nursed her husband through his long illness. They had spent 49 happy years together.

We miss you at our meetings dear Governor. You always made it a point to be there even during the latter stages of your illness when you were so weak.

It was fortuitous that the well-deserved Lions International Appreciation Award for 25 years of loyal service arrived in time in September to be ceremonially handed over to you--a truly fitting farewell gesture to a dedicated Lion who gave of himself ‘to serve’.

May he rest in peace.

Priyanthie de Silva

Visionary educationist who championed English and gave new life to Sinhala

D. F. E. Panagoda

The 19th death anniversary of eminent educationist and scholar D. F. E. Panagoda falls on November 19. His pioneering work paved the way for the growth of education in post-independence Sri Lanka.
Mr. Panagoda was a man of many parts – mathematician, writer, artist, and educationist. He was also kind, cheerful and unassuming.

He was Principal of the Musaeus Teachers Training College from 1937 to ’62. The female teachers who graduated from the college helped to produce a generation of outstanding students who continue to be a precious asset to the country.

Don Francis Edmund Panagoda was born in Malabe, Colombo district, on March 7, 1907. His father and mother were both teachers, and his four sisters also became teachers. No doubt his family background influenced his decision to become a teacher himself.

He attended Royal College, Colombo, from 1918 to 1925, obtaining his Cambridge Senior Certificate. He obtained an English Teacher’s Certificate from the Maharagama Teacher Training School. In 1932, he joined the Department of Education as a teacher and later became a lecturer at the Mirigama Teacher Training School (1933), before taking on the post of Principal at Musaeus Teachers College.
He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of London in 1947, majoring in Sinhala. Although he studied Sinhala and Pali as subjects for his degree, he excelled in Mathematics too.

He was the first recipient of a Colombo Plan Fellowship in education, in 1952, which took him to the University of Toronto, in Canada.The teaching of subjects such as Algebra, Geometry and Arithmetic in the Sinhala language was pioneered by a few educationists, including Mr. Panagoda, long before Sinhala became the official language.

Mr. Panagoda’s user-friendly mathematics textbooks in Sinhala include “Senior School Algebra”; “Senior School Arithmetic”; “Teaching Arithmetic”; “Delight in Numbers” (Books 1 to 5). These books were published between 1940 and 1960, and were much used in schools. Some of the Sinhala mathematical terms he created have become part of the Sinhala lexicon.

Although Mr. Panagoda wrote books in Sinhala to help students learn difficult subjects, he was strongly opposed to the Sinhala Only Act of 1956. He correctly predicted that this Act would set the country back and would have serious consequences.

His warning was ignored by both the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP). Mr. Panagoda was a visionary educationist who lived to see the disastrous fall-out of this ill-advised political move, and the rapid decline of English that followed. Too bad his advice was not taken back in 1956.

Mr. Panagoda was also a poet. He published “Padya Rasaya” (Poetry Books 1 to 7) and “Rasanjalee”, an anthology of Sinhala verse, and “Sinhala In Practice”, Books 1 to 5, which were recommended supplementary textbooks in most schools in the Fifties.

In 1960, Mr. Panagoda was appointed to the National Co-ordination Committee of UNESCO. As a male head of a women’s college, he was a strict disciplinarian, but his kindness and understanding made him an iconic figure among schoolteachers around the country.

I end this tribute with a poem my maternal uncle often recited to us:

“The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.”

Upali Cooray

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