From all that one can see, it appears that the task of reviving the fortunes of football is slowly but surely moving beyond the interest or capacity of the FFSL, the national association whose primary consideration it must be! Recent reports that the FFSL President himself was flying out to purchase World Cup tickets allocated [...]


While the bigwigs jig; others keep dribbling


FFSL bigwigs globe trotting while others promote the game

From all that one can see, it appears that the task of reviving the fortunes of football is slowly but surely moving beyond the interest or capacity of the FFSL, the national association whose primary consideration it must be! Recent reports that the FFSL President himself was flying out to purchase World Cup tickets allocated to Sri Lanka was picked up by the media. Old habits die hard we guess because four years ago the same little gig was enacted by the then powers that be and the same well trained official went to London to do his masters bidding at that time! In an age when communication and logistics is so far advanced, not being able to make the transaction on-line or by courier is indeed a fair question posed by all who know the goings on at Football House. The next episode will be a guessing game as to who gets these precious tickets; no prizes on offer this time!

While these recurring antics goes on unabated at Football House, it is indeed very heartwarming to see so many football activities taking place by those to whom the game matters above all. On top of the list, is the Milo initiative of sending six talented young players on an all expense paid trip to a coaching camp run by FC Barcelona.

This initiative titled the Road to Barcelona will kick-off with an All Island U12 tournament organised by the Sri Lanka Schools Football Association under the patronage of the Ministry of Education (MOE). Football fans will remember that Milo that was one of the first sponsors of Schools Football in the mid-80’s, with an elaborate development program. Unfortunately, like in the case of most football sponsorships like Cargills, this valuable initiative was aborted due to the poor organization that has accompanied FFSL for a long time now.

A football columnist claimed in the ST last weekend that there were talented players and coaches but not administrators! Whether one agrees with that remark or not, it is common knowledge that the morass that Football has fallen into cannot be revived unless FIFA & AFC along with the Ministry of Sports (MOS) working in tandem, look into the affairs of FFSL and overhaul the administration through a special Reorganisation Committee. This column has time and again revisited that subject but the so called elected body is what the authorities hide behind, even after a hard earned cache of funds amounting to Rs.25M or so was spirited away under the very noses of the current officials who are busy globetrotting and running FIFA/AFC errands!

Another newspaper report last weekend drove attention to a Professional League that is struggling to get started. It is reported FIFA has in their wisdom pledged Rs.75M for this purpose and in fact advanced Rs.7.5M, a 10% advance payment to kick-start this long awaited competition. The FFSL President has assured readers that all will happen in good time, but nowhere can be found any reference to such a plan; the FFSL website famously remains dormant and a relic of Football’s lethargic game plan! The transparency that these programs demand is lacking and no one need be surprised if these funds go astray as it has happened on several occasions over a long time now!

An academy organised by a former Football captain

Meanwhile, the oldest Football Club in Sri Lanka celebrates 100 years, a precursor of both the Colombo Football League as well as the Football Federation itself. It is noteworthy that Saunders SC is one of the oldest clubs in the South Asian Region having produced some of Sri Lanka’s soccer greats. Only a few months ago we lost one of its greatest sons, the diminutive P D Sirisena who not only strode the green fields like a giant, but also went on to carry out a junior program over so many years, while the parent body was finding it difficult simply to keep awake! That great contribution to Football fortunately continues under his protégé, Sumith Walpola from where young footballers are still fed into the mainstream clubs.

Almost on cue, one of Sri Lanka’s prestigious clubs, Renown SC has embarked on their second academy to develop young football talent which they realise is not well organised at present. There is no doubt that Football is widely played, especially in the outstations away from the spotlights where Cricket and Rugby dominate. Unless Football becomes attractive to the fledgling player and lucrative enough to build a career, the talent will drift away to other sports as it happens now, even as we pontificate and talk incessantly about Junior Football at the drop of a hat!

The MOS and the MOE cannot seem to come together on various models that have been discussed over and over again. And the FFSL will somnolently wait the day that FIFA/AFC will send another expert and another tranche of money that they can then conjure to utilize as only they know how!

As usual one sees the perennial appeal from die hard football icons to the MOS. With a new broom sweeping the corridors of our sports conundrum, one will need more than a legal eagle to transform the archaic outlook that pervades most of the national bodies that gravitate around the NOC and hover around the citadels of Reid Avenue. Most administrators are past national level players but no sooner they hang their boots, more often than not, they grow wings to fly around the world. Once that charm juggernaut commences, the agenda shifts to an international quadrant and the strategy to prolong that journey as long as one can. In that daunting process, one quickly abandons the aspirations of the young sportsman and sportswomen at home and resort to concoct pretenses of grandeur at local events.

That is why the small efforts of enthusiastic sports organisations is so much admired. It is their sacrifices and love for the sport that maintains a semblance of what we witness today. Perhaps the MOS will condescend to take one harder look at what goes beneath the surface. If he more than glances at Football House, he will see very plainly, that it needs more than a coat of fresh paint.

Share This Post


Advertising Rates

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