It is no easy task to be appointed to the Ex-Co. of a Controlling Body of any sport Internationally, in this instance the FIFA, and as Sri Lankans we have to acknowledge such a feat with pride and joy of another Sri Lankan. However may I very humbly place before the sporting public of this country through this popular journal of yours some pertinent questions that had and has been time and again raised regarding the standard of soccer and the position we have attained in the Asian Region with Manilal Fernando at the helm of affairs for the last two decades and over.
I remember some time back a highly acclaimed and knowledgeable former soccer coach Neville Abeygunewardena (deceased now) and a former Sri Lanka soccer captain Edward Wickremasooriya (mysteriously silenced a few years back) vociferously making scathing attacks and questions the very many programmes undertaken by Manilal As President of the Sri Lanka Football Federation for which large amounts of funds were received from the Controlling Body and his background in soccer at the time of being elected President of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka.
The confrontation reached a peak with parties seeking solace in the District Court of Colombo.The publicity and propaganda which Manilal is receiving at present courtesy through a few scribes in the print media would appear to be overdone since all the achievements are at a personal level and such achievement and accolades would be acceptable and worthy had it filtered down to the core of the issue that is football in Sri Lanka, as nobody is bigger than the game.
The people are aware that at least with the large amount of funds received some percentage has gone to build the infrastructure that is the Football House and a Ground of its own and Hostel facility. Those are praiseworthy although there were many queries raised on the subject of accountability of the entire Funds received. Well that is the past and be that as it may, the most pertinent question one would beg to ask Manilal and his band of soccer administrators is where are we as a nation in soccer considered the poor man’s game in the Asian circuit? It would appear to all and sundry that accolades and positions are achieved by Manilal when the game is in the doldrums.
I am sure this letter would raise an hornet’s nest and there will be those scribes rushing and falling over one another to defend Manilal and attack this writer, but facts truthful and accurate can withstand any attack. One scribe has gone to the extent of saying that the govt. should take note of Manilal’s achievement, but the head of state (Bless Him) is far more intelligent and well versed to see through all this cheap propaganda that is currently being dished out by Manilal’s crew.
Dear Manilal, if you have an iota of sportsmanship be humble of your achievements that has come by way of the poor man’s game and first and foremost express your gratitude to football and the poor players who have made this possible for you and strive at least now to take constructive and appropriate action to not only raise the local football standard but see that the cradle of football that was the outstations are revived to produce football players of national stature. Pomp and pageantry of your achievements should cease immediately. Thank you Manilal.
“Former Soccer Player and Administrator”
- (M.A. lssadeen No. 33, Kew Road Colombo-2)