I learnt from a reliable source in the Schools Rugby Football section of a new, not so ethical, practice in the process of changing schools and playing rugby. This is when School Rugby will be on show this week in the midst of a big match cricket period. Big matches make the news these days. I [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

The not-so-ethical practice of changing schools to play Rugby !


I learnt from a reliable source in the Schools Rugby Football section of a new, not so ethical, practice in the process of changing schools and playing rugby. This is when School Rugby will be on show this week in the midst of a big match cricket period. Big matches make the news these days. I was told of the winning mania and the sordid deviating culture that is practiced by some schools when they offer a place to students who have rugby potential. The story is about beating the Education Ministry circular on changing schools and playing sport. The new practice is done in rugby and will spread to other sports in schools was the lament of a school head who are losing players.

The Education Authorities allow a student to change schools and play a sport without a clearance from the first school when you change at Year 6 and Year 12. The reason is that some schools may not have an education stream beyond Grade 5 and some after Year 11. Therefore to allow such students an opportunity for education and continuance in sport if they are involved is why a no objection letter is not requested. To all others in age classes such as year 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 or 13 a release is required. As related to me: the new approach is adopted to circumvent the circular requirements. That is to join a school that is say not playing rugby (can be cricket) and then get a release from that school as it is the last school that has to release the player or student. The student may be on the school register may be a month or less or three months.

This does not happening cost-free. What is the end repercussion on the game as well as on society? Parents speaking, also voiced concern as the Ministry of Education is considering the recognition of participating in school sport to be given marks in considering eligibility for University entrance. The issue they have is that the children will take part in sport for many years and when they come in sight of representing the first team, a boy from elsewhere would be playing. If this is one or two, they see little problem but when numbers are high they do see a problem.  The other side of the backdoor import is the cultural and psychological scar that the present student is exposed.

The question is why the Education Authorities in a school tolerate this type of practice. Can you believe that they don’t understand the negative impact of their action which has a bearing on the child? Most understand but are pushed by money bags, which see no qualms in doing what may not be right.  Who is trying to spoil the enjoyment of the kids? It definitely is not the kids themselves. It is the adult who seek popularity and fame, the bane created by a pop culture. If the attempt to maneuver through the Education Ministry circular in admission is true then this can only happen with the schools authorities being aware.

When a less-known school that has little sport agrees to take a child to the roster and release it cannot be for the love of the child or game. It has to be the love of money or the mother, if there is truth in the stories we hear. According to the University of Notre Dame’s Centre for Ethical Education, research shows that kids play sports: to Have Fun which is always priority. To do something they are good at. To improve skills, to get exercise and stay in shape, to be part of a team and to enjoy the excitement of competition. “They do not play to win. They like to win, they enjoy competing, but they do not play to win. They play to have fun, to be with their friends, to feel good about themselves, and because it is exciting”.

Studies also show that kids quit sports for the following reasons: Criticism and yelling. No playing time, emphasis on winning, poor communication, fear of making mistakes. Boredom. Not learning.  Go to a rugby match and you will see all the above happening courtesy of adults who possibly want to show how much they love their school. The strong like for words that are fit for Billingsgate or our “Mariyakade” is no example for the youth. We have heard about the imports that have made boys who have been involved in sport losing out their place and quitting which falls from why youth play sports to why they quit. Who introduces the must-win cult? It is never the student themselves and mostly it is by interested adults.

The hooliganism seen in rugby, cricket or other sport in schools is the result of the old boy or parent who has never grown up to understand why kids play? Is this a result of an expectation mismatch within the education system? We talk of great sportsmanship while at the same time some ask whether Thomians should have declared at the score on day one or should they have played on to ensure a safer ground? At the end it was cricket that exited all and a result was most welcome. Another might ask whether the Rector of St. Joseph’s should have awarded the match marred by hooliganism. Some praise the awarding as a gesture of giving what is due to those who deserve. While others ask as to why this happened?

People see things differently and interpret things as the culture they are exposed to gives them the experience to and shape their views.  Look at the reason why there is sports in the education curricula and why so many are involved. That is because youth sports are a wonderful, life altering, and positive experience for children. It can also be negative, and detrimental depending on how involvement on sport is handled. What matters most is that you to make youth sports experience a great one for all involved!

Vimal Perera is a former player, coach, referee and an IRB Accredited Referees’

Advertising Rates

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