Sanjeewa a top fullback in the making

By M Naushad Amit
As the President’s Trophy Singer League rugby tournament reaches the climax with almost 6 weeks of play being completed, St. Joseph’s has made steady progress in the Division I B by winning all their matches in the competition. The Josephians who returned to the ‘B’ group after failing to make an impact in the top group are once against on track to move up to the pinnacle again. Collectively all the players have contributed for St. Joseph’s to achieve the unblemished record they are enjoying currently but the team has a couple of playmakers who throw in the extra energy. Fullback Mayura Sanjeewa is one of those who could be rated as an asset to St. Joseph’s rugby this season.

“I want to see my team end up as group champions with an unbeaten record. We have got 3 more games before we wind up our league campaign and the way things are going on right now we will be able to gain promotion back to the top division. I’m honoured to be one of the contributors for St. Joseph’s,” Sanjeewa who is more of a team man stated.
For Sanjeewa however, Colombo was not a familiar place two years back. After completing his GCE O/L exam and obtaining flying colours he decided to make his move to Colombo from his hometown Galle for better prospects in education. He was a student of St. Aloysius’ College, Galle before moving to St. Joseph’s for his GCE A/L.

“I have played rugby since I was 11 years old and continued to play for the senior team of St. Aloysius’ in 2007 before briefly calling off for my exam. I just played a season there but could not impress much,” he added.
After joining St. Joseph’s Sanjeewa reached the mark to fit in as a regular member of the rugby team and he said his knowledge of rugby broadened further after moving to Colombo. Lack of qualified coaches and grounds remain as one of the top priorities that should be addressed in the southern region of the country.
“In Galle there are potential players with a lot of talent but they are never in the full glare of publicity because of obvious reasons. Rugby is gradually picking up, but when compared to other sports the recognition is quite disheartening. Before moving to Colombo all I knew about rugby was the general basics and some of the rules. But today I’ve learnt a lot on the game and broadened my horizons in rugby. I feel very lucky,” Sanjeewa explained.

Sanjeewa, who is the youngest with three elder brothers and two elder sisters, liked rugby since he was just nine years of age. Though his elder brothers went on to play football, volleyball and athletics young Sanjeewa was strongly attracted to rugby.
“The St. Aloysius’ ground was just opposite my home in Galle. Maybe that tempted me to rugby as all day what I saw was bigger boys playing the game.”

According to Sanjeewa, rugby talent goes waste and unnoticed in Galle without reaching the next level due to many setbacks. Talented players from the area are not able to learn further about the game as the qualified coaches of the game are based in Colombo and Kandy. But Sanjeewa is blessed and gifted to make it to a higher level in rugby with the talent he possesses as a fine back division player.

He represented St. Joseph’s in the Division I A in 2009 and played all 9 matches to gain more experience in a competitive league of rugby than what he was used to. For the whole of the last season he was able to score only one try and convert 15 tries but this season he has turned out to be an asset for the team. In 6 matches he has scored 7 tries and made 28 conversions, proving how far he has developed in skills within these couple of years.
“I really enjoy playing in my position and when you enjoy most you tend to do the best. Though I play in the second best league I’m in a position to challenge the fullbacks of all teams of the Division I ‘A’ and find a place in the Youth Asiad this year,” said an ambitious Sanjeewa.