There has been some interesting and some queer arguments by several writers on the Ranjith Rodrigo comments. Of these I shall briefly clarify the correct position in relation to the issues that I have been indirectly accused of saying that I am claiming positions and perks to join the FFSL in its development process of [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

I am proud to be a Football loyalist

Subhani replies to Ranjith

The Sunday Times has decided to dedicate this column to its readers so that they can comment about contents in our sports columns and features and also write their own thoughts on various sports with letters to the editor.Their views however are not necessarily those of the newspaper.

There has been some interesting and some queer arguments by several writers on the Ranjith Rodrigo comments. Of these I shall briefly clarify the correct position in relation to the issues that I have been indirectly accused of saying that I am claiming positions and perks to join the FFSL in its development process of football in the country.

I doubt Ranjith was speaking for himself. If he has done so “Almighty God forgive him for he knows not what he is uttering. I am sorry there is more tongue in the cheek talk than good advice.

It has now become almost customary for those who speak the truth and stand for the right to be criticized unjustly and unfairly. I am not prepared to sing the praises of the Exco chairman and other officials in every sentence I write. Nor do I to please the authorities hailing mediocre and humiliating performances as “creditable, wonderful and so on. These are the characteristics of maggots that bite into the body and bone of our football.

I am proud to be a loyal football fan. I have not turned my life and character to live on wits. Just as much as others I too desire to see my country do well at football. But I shall to my last breath fearlessly stand up for the right and not hesitate to exposure the ills in our sport. I am not representing any political party or football opposition groups. I don’t have any prejudice, ill feeling, anger, jealousy or remorse against any particular individuals or group. My only concern is football, the emergence of my country and the future of the young football players. No money and position can buy me. I am always prepared to serve football with people who have the sport and country at heart.

For over 35 years I coached many schools, clubs, campuses, leagues and the national teams without receiving any remuneration or other benefits, except when coaching the Sri Lanka Army and Colombo FC. I accepted this because I was on retirement. With such a background of my coaching career who will believe Ranjith’s brazen lies that I am demanding positions and perks. Mind you! God has given us a mouth and a fist to talk and write, the truth, not poppy cock and nonsense.

There were instances he has introduced me to young players as a soccer legend, the most qualified person on technical matters and so on , which I don’t believe. As a young lad I have seen many soccer legends and knowledgable coaches in our country who were much better than me. Unfortunately Ranjith was not born at that time

When Ranjith was the President of the FFSL during the period 2013 – 2015, he offered me various positions in various committees such as the selection committee, technical committee and so on, not officially but just through telephone calls. I categorically declined them and said I am not for positions, foreign tours or perks. In fact, I re-iterated that I am ready to work with him, provided he is prepared to work with me honestly and genuinely to promote and develop the game. However, he very well knew that the problem between us will be that I will not say “yes” for everything or dance according to his music which a few past players did so and finally got the boot. Certainly I don’t want to be another victim.

During the period 2013 up to date. I have met Ranjith at Football House on four occasions to discuss matters with regard to developing Sri Lanka football.

I never mentioned anything about perks and facilities, I only emphasized and focused on promoting the game. On two occasions he requested me to prepare and forward to him the action plans.(1) To develop our football from the grass-root level (2) A report to set up a few Football Academies in the country. As requested I prepared two comprehensive reports and asked for an appointment to personally meet him and explain how its to be implemented. He responded that he will come to my residence for a discussion. Up to date he has failed to do so. In such a situation how can I trust and depend on him. He also indicated that arrangements will be made for me to go Saudi Arabia to acquire knowledge on the Football Academy. Fortunately I did not take this matter seriously since I knew that he is lying and bluffing. Your style of being discreet of wrongs, blunder and falsehood that are perpetrated in the name of football, may be a relief and satisfaction to you, its certainly not to me.

Therefore making football comments in a few newspapers with a barrage of falsehood and lies certainly will not take you anywhere nor bring fruitful results in your endeavour. Anything in life is achieved and blessed only with honesty and good intentions, not like the king arrogating to himself the power that belongs to the nobles. With such an attitude you will never be successful. Without any prejudice may I just suggest to you to please let football be and contest the upcoming Provincial Council election which will be an ideal place for people of your ilk. Please defend yourself without accusing us, for totally ruining our football and pushing our country to the bottom of the world ranking.

With regard to your “catch them young policy”, if you refresh your memory, in the year 2000 plans and programme were introduced by the Former President of the FFSL Senior DIG Bodhi Liyanage along with me as Youth Football Development Director. A long term programme was implemented with the blessings of the Minister of Sports and the Minister of Education involving 6oo schools around the country to improve football from the grass-root level. This programme was highly commended by the Technical Director – FIFA and the General Secretary –AFC. This programme was implemented with kids who are 12 years of age, with an aim of producing quality National players by 2008. Unfortunately both of us were forced to resign due to lack of financial support and lethargic attitude of the Exco officials of the FFSL. In fact Ranjith was one of them who is now talking about “Catch them young policy and who should have followed ages ago”. While commenting on this, he has sadly forgotten that Bodhi and Subhani who are still living.

Instead of inviting people like us, giving lame excuses that we are asking for positions and perks looks ridiculous. If this programme was properly implemented then, no doubt we would have produced plenty of quality and talented players who would have given a good run to some Asian countries, which the present up-coming youth players would have followed.

Having miserably failed in the past with Brazilian, Siberian and Korean expertise Ranjith has still not learned a lesson. Now desperately trying to hire foreign coaches and technical officers when we have a few knowledgeable and experienced men who could do the job. It clearly indicates the complexity, lack of technical knowledge and pride which has become a stumbling block for the development of our football at large. Unless and until you change your attitude and cordially work with others with an open mind, the common man’s sport football will never prosper. Since football is a team –game. You will have to be a good captain and work with others cordially and efficiently to develop the game, without using your iron fist to hire and fire competent and knowledgable people who are speaking the truth.

Whatever said and done in the final analysis what matters is the result of our football teams in the international competitions and the level at which they are achieved.

It is not a secret that Sri Lanka soccer has suffered immeasurably at the hands of officials blissfully ignorant of the game. I strongly believe that although Srilanka is a tiny island, we have enough talented players and coaches either on par or better than some of the Asian countries. Unfortunately due to unknown reasons they are deprived of rendering their valuable services to the country. Why cant Ranjith tell the truth to the media and the soccer loving crowd?

It is always good for football, when its performance is evaluated and commented upon. It is vital for the sport to be criticized particularly when its playing standards are poor. Only then will the sport improve provided of course the administrators are humble enough to admit the drawbacks and accept the comments and criticism as a mode of assistance and advice rather than as a confrontation or insult

Subhani Hassimdeen  

Former National Football Captain and National Coach  Kirulapone

Advertising Rates

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