Former national junior badminton coach Chinthaka Fernando, who has turned out to be a vociferous advocate of the game indicates that more protests, sterner than what was staged a fortnight ago, can be expected in time to come, unless top officials intervene appositely to end the corruption of Sri Lanka Badminton Association (SLBA). He stressed [...]


The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

More protests on line warns ex-shuttle coach Chinthaka


Former national junior badminton coach Chinthaka Fernando, who has turned out to be a vociferous advocate of the game indicates that more protests, sterner than what was staged a fortnight ago, can be expected in time to come, unless top officials intervene appositely to end the corruption of Sri Lanka Badminton Association (SLBA).

He stressed this point to the Sunday Times after a group of concerned coaches and parents flocked opposite the SLBA headquarters in Maitland Place to stage a silent protest on the manner promising shuttler Ilmi Varangana de Silva was treated. Though the present SLBA hierarchy claims that they are not in the wrong side of the picture, they have been heavily critisesed by many in the circle. The SLBA officials speaking at a press conference under the patronage of the Minister of Sports a couple of days ago, even found it difficult to find a fitting explanation, when journos questioned on Varangana’s issue. Interestingly the SLBA, who are in the good books of the Ministry of Sports, have been warned by the World Badminton Federation, through a letter, to conduct its annual general meeting while abiding by its constitution and the International Olympic Charter, aspects that are overlooked by the local officials.

Protestors who gathered in front of the SLBA headquarters at Maitland Place

In the case of Ilmi Varangana, the second seeded player in girls’ Under-17, she was denied an international tour to Taipei as she failed to raise the amount required by the SLBA. It is reported that Ilmi Varangana’s father, Sarath de Silva, had lodged a complaint against SLBA president Suraj Dandeniya at the Human Rights Commission chain of series.

“It is unfair to burden the players financially. These players are young and some of them are not so privileged financially. Funding players is the responsibility of SLBA. These type of acts never took place until this set of administrators took over. This only shows the administrators do not have a clear vision to develop the game. What they do is just please certain individuals and that’s it. Personal agendas of certain officials have created a major mess in badminton. Why should any player pay money to represent the country? Why aren’t the administrators capable of finding sponsors for these players? This is just an attempt to please certain individuals as a return to their favour,” charged Fernando.

The protestors, numbering to over hundred stood by the entrance of the SLBA along Maitland Place displaying placards that said the misconducts of the present badminton hierarchy. Fernando, who was one of the front-liners on the day, questioned the credibility of the SLBA chief’s words stating they were merely words, as they appeared.

“Suraj Dandeniya claims that he had done wonders during the past eight months, what badminton could not achieve during the past 25 years. It’s not true and the best testimony is the recently concluded championship in Taipei, held between February 16 and 23. SLBA sent 15 players, eight boys and seven girls and a potential girl was cruelly left out. Eventually in the event Sri Lanka lost to Malaysia and China by the same margin 5-0 on both occasions. In the individual events, all 14 players lost in the first round apart from one girl.”
“The reason behind the bad display is due to not selecting the best players. Good players were completely overlooked. They were not even called for trails. Also the selection committee had shunned away from their duties and eventually a few top officials, some who even not played the game at any level had done the selections. The president of SLBA has said that players must compete in the ranking tournaments and those who did not take part in those have not been entertained. But they must understand the players; especially the schoolchildren must go through crucial examinations at certain points. And SLBA has always been obliging those sensitive points in the past. But on the other hand the schools section that has two members in the SLBA administration has failed to conduct the most important junior ranking tournament, the Sri Lanka Junior Nationals for 2013. This happened for the first time in history. Yes, what Dandeniya claims is true, he has been able to do what others have failed for the past 25 years by skipping the Junior Nationals,” stated Fernando.

In the meantime SLBA sent four players, three boys and a girl in a month-long tour to Europe. After a tight start the juniors impressed by claiming the Boys’ Doubles title at the Spain Junior Internationals while two other players reached the Girls’ and Boys’ Singles final in the Uganda Internationals.

Chinthaka Fernando

But according to Fernando’s explanation what the SLBA has taken up as a European Tour are a series of Level IV tournaments ranked by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). This category includes International Challenge, International Series and Future Series competitions. Fernando recalled that Sri Lanka is a country that competed at BWF Level I competitions which include the World Championship, Thomas and Uber Cup and Sudirman Cup.

“There is also the Super Series and Premier Series, such as Indonesian Open, Korean Open and the Danish Open which are rated as Level II. And the Level III includes the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Gold competitions. What is the point in competing below the level down,” asked Fernando while adding that the administrators do not possess a clear vision.

“They have sent four players, three boys and a girl but on a tight schedule. The idea behind the tour is to qualify for the Youth Olympics. What is evident here is that badminton officials just want to qualify for the Youth Olympics and not win it. To achieve that, players should perform consistently against top opponents but here what happens is, they just tour the Europe, play against low ranked players and then the officials will glorify themselves of what they were able to achieve. But there are more important areas they could have done better in reality.”

Fernando firmly said that the act which came out two Monday’s ago was just the beginning of what he termed as a silent struggle to put badminton back on track. He said more and more are joining their cause and they will go all the way, even to the point of seeking legal assistance if needed. All these are caused mainly because SLBA officials display no transparency, stated Fernando

“It’s evident that either the head of SLBA is not ready to listen or he is adamant. Or else he is being ill-informed or controlled by a handful of people around him. Many inappropriate occurrences have taken place during the recent few months and top officials seem to have turned a blind eye on these issues. Even the Minister of Sports is just taking only one side of the story, he should listen to the other side as well. He should explore the matters that have forced badminton to its sorry state. He should take the responsibility to put badminton back on track. We have a good history as well as a bright future as a nation. Why should it get pawned to the interest of certain individuals? Some of our potential players have given up the sport mainly because conduct of the officials and the way they treat the players. It’s fair enough for the parents to fear about the future of their children. In addition the president of SLBA is too adamant and tough and he has treated some of the parents harshly including the father of the victimised girl. So it’s fair enough to expect a protest of this kind and anticipate more in time to come,” Fernando detailed.

Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.