The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Let us gratefully remember those referees

Lest we forget!

Football referees the world over, perform a thankless task. Ours is no exception, for many have shed their flesh and blood to keep the game in all its splendour. These law enforcement officers have steadfastly upheld the ideals of sportsmanship, and timeand again performed their duty without fear or favour.

Winning has become a habit off lately for Thangaraja.

Football in this country would never have survived leave alone development or been promoted, if not for the extremely vital role played by the referees. Amidst the most volatile situations and trying conditions, these men in the black garb have had to face the several odds, which none else in the game had ever encountered. Undismayed and undaunted, they have at all times placed the sport above their physical and personal interests.

To recognise when a player is feigning injury, or is trying to exaggerate the gravity of an injury, or still, trying to grab an undue advantage through unfair means, the referee necessarily must possess a degree of alertness, observance, vigilance, promptness and above all prudence and tact, which calls for a great deal of personal discipline.

We in this country have been fortunate to possess a good number of quality referees down the years, and as a result, the sports has been kept comparatively clean and healthy, to what we see and hear in European and or Latin American football.

We had referees who were not only knowledgeable of the laws of the game but unquestionable men of integrity, independence and un-attachment, they command a high degree of faith and respect in the public eye. They realise that they are a sort of judges in the field who import justice without fear and favour. A few such referees to mention are L. Prestonjee, K. Abeysinghe, B.M. Mantara, B.H.M. Preena and T.B. Bongso.

I am proud to mention some reputed and smart referees in the calibre of T. Perimpanayam, C.S. Fernando, M.T. Fernando, E.S. Chellathamby, Basil Jayawardena, M.T.A. Ossen, A. Ganeshalingam, M.A. Sheriff, B. Ariyanayagam, Henly Perera, P. Rajaratnam, M. Buhary, Melder and H.K. Gnanasena followed by M.T. Ousman, A.H.S.M. Uvais, Mushin Ariff, Sunil Senaweera, N. Wickamatunga, R.A. Mahatun, A.M. Yapa, Deshapriya and to name a few who in their days gave their best for the glory of the sport.

Selfless services rendered by these referees under great stress and strain it is indeed praiseworthy. A grateful nation will always remember their contribution towards the game to maintain discipline, law and order in the field.

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