|Meet rugbyís new selection chief
Ė Chandrishan Perera
Chandrishan Perera is a name synonymous with Sri
Lankan rugby. There is seldom a time where his name
doesnít crop up either as a past Sri Lankan captain,
outstanding centre wing for CH & FC and his country,
or as rugby commentator. He is there in some way in
the thick of things a passionate lover of the sport
and wanting to give back something to the game which
has made him what he is today. ĎShaní as he is
popularly referred to by friends and team-mates was
a fortnight back appointed the chairman of rugby
selectors a thankless job for which many donít have
the courage to stomach what it involves coming under
the microscope of the media and being open to
criticism especially on selections. But being
involved with media work for some time ĎShaní knows
how to grapple with such situations. He was one time
media manager at Sri Lanka Cricket as well.
In a frank interview with The Nation, Perera talks
of why he undertook the job of chief selector, what
ails Sri Lankan rugby and solutions to overcome it,
and to drug taking by players which has become a hot
topic in sport circles today.
Q: What made you undertake the arduous and
challenging task of accepting the post of rugbyís
chairman of selectors?
CP: A little bit of inspiration of wanting to try
and put something back into the game for the years I
spent playing for Sri Lanka about 14 years five of
them as captain. Iíve watched the game in fits and
starts and itís been very difficult with a lot of
issues involving the SLRFU (Sri Lanka Rugby Football
Union) which I hope has been sorted out by now. It
needs us to protect the game as much as we can in
the time allocated. For me itís a real honour, a
real privilege, itís a massive challenge which I
canít hide away from. Hopefully we can join together
with the SLRFU, the selectors and the Ministry of
Sports to make sure the game is protected at the
highest level and that we are able to produce very
good strong players as cricket has done. What
inspired me to come and accept this post is the
likes of Michael Jayasekera, Savantha de Saram,
Tikiri Marambe and Pradeep Basnayake. The previous
committee that I served on as a selector Iíve seen
the team effort they put in and where I was very
much a shadow because I was not able to commit full
time to that. But against all odds they managed to
get everything sorted out. For me itís a massive
honour, a chance to take on that challenge and the
Q: Do you think you have the time on your
hands to fulfill the task as chief rugby selector?
CP: Itís looking at the time available; I have an
active career in media, on radio and television
which I do as a profession. I need to combine that
and find the time. Itís a good responsibility. For
me itís the old principle of protecting the game and
the players. The game itself needs a passion and a
commitment. I hope I would be able to bring that
more than anything else. For me the rugby heart
still beats quite a lot although there is pressure
at home to step away now because I spent a lifetime
in the game.
Q: How is your wife Rai and family taking all
CP: There was thrashing of doors and banging of
things but sheís been amazing. Behind every good man
they say there is an equally strong, committed and
passionate woman and thatís what Rai is. Sheís been
involved in sport at cricket at the highest level
and she understands the nature of professional
sport. I am very fortunate in that I have a young
family which means they will learn to deal with
ĎDadaí. I got three gladiators and the pressure at
home is for them not to play any sport.
Q: Your position as chairman of selectors
wonít be confined only to picking sides, I suppose?
CP: I would like to spend a little bit of my time to
developing the game in the region. We as selectors
should be able to go and explain around the country
by broad-basing the game as much as possible.
Selectors only in Colombo and selecting national
teams is very one dimensional. I watched Michael
Jayasekera, the former chairman of selectors being
stifled by the fact that he was not given everything
that he wanted. We canít only stay in Colombo. As
selectors we become ambassadors in a way as well.
When I was a player I didnít like the selectors that
much, they seemed dark people whom you never saw.
The present selection committee is a great bunch Ė
Pradeep Basnayake (from the previous committee),
Nazir Mohamed, Bharatha Hegoda and Hisham Abdeen.
There is no lack of knowledge and experience and
hardness in the head about the game there it just
needs good direction which I hope I will get from
the SLRFU and the president and vice president. It
needs a strong belief that we can take this game to
the next level.
Q: Have you been given a free hand in
CP: Yes, that is one good thing. I was pleasantly
surprised that we had a very clear hand in selecting
the junior squad. The recommendations we looked at
and we spoke to the coaches and got their opinion of
players. I want to be pro-active and come down to
the players and make them feel that we are there to
help them to get to the next level.
Q: What ails Sri Lankan rugby from what it was
during your time as a player and now?
CP: Itís a combination of lack of professionalism
and a system that the rugby union needed to have set
when rugby went professional. We didnít go
professional in Sri Lanka we went part maybe two
World Cups when the game changed. I stopped playing
in 1995 just after that the game turned with the
Super 14 and then with the rugby World Cup and big
club structures around the world. There are issues
we have to deal with. One is the rugby unionís
ability to commit players to the national game. We
had issues in the past where senior national level
of players not being available for their country.
There is a matter of club and country that has
popped up and we need to change that. There are
discussions about central contracts like in Sri
Lanka Cricket for which a huge amount of finance is
required to professionalise the game in Sri Lanka.
At the moment it is a case of tour by tour basis.
That is why players tend to pick and choose matches.
Clubs are their livelihood and itís very difficult
for a player not to commit to his club because he
knows thatís where he gets his bread and butter
from. Playing for his country and leaving his job is
becoming an issue now. We need to structure the game
very quickly and issues with the IRB all of that
need to stop. If we are to take this game forward we
need to have the right people involved in the right
position, people who have a passion, care and
dedicate their time for the game. We have to also
look at our rugby season. We play our toughest
tournament (the Asian5 nations) before we even start
our club season. There has been a lot of discussion
with Priyantha Ekanayake and Rohan Abeykoon,
previous chairmen of rugby selection and previous
captains of Sri Lanka that we move the season maybe
to September-October which makes a lot of sense
given the weather and the heat.
Q: Any suggestions that you can come up with?
CP: I see a future for Sri Lankan rugby in terms of
satellites. We have a satellite centre in Kandy
which is a massive magnet. We need to create the
same thing in Galle, Kurunegala, Jaffna and
Batticoloa. For Sri Lanka our rankings in Asia and
the World is something that we have to focus on, how
we up that level and how we protect the players at
all levels. To ensure the game at school and
district levels we need to open the game up in the
north and the east from Amparai to Mullaitivu to
Kalpitiya to Puttalam. The wonderful news for me
last week that also encouraged me was when the
Sports Minister requested me to take it on was the
fact that there was also mention that rugby is going
to be included in the schoolsí curriculum as a
national sport. Sport is the leader. Itís the
universal language that will take us to all corners
of the world. We already became runners-up in the
Cricket World Cup and the respect is massive. We
need to now take rugby to that level as well, first
in Asia and then see what we can do in rugby Sevens
as Kenya and Portugal have done, two small countries
talking big and playing the game at the highest
level which means there is nothing wrong. You get
the pride in Samoa and Tonga in the World Cup where
the smaller nations come up and show their class,
commitment and their passion. Sri Lanka has all of
that. We need to play rugby as islanders not as Sri
Q: Do you think the SLRFU has that kind of
money to offer central contracts to players?
CP: We need to market the game in Sri Lanka as much
as possible. We need to get the likes of Singer (Sri
Lanka) and Caltex the multi nationals involved in
the game. We need that support to take the game to
the next level. But they must also be comfortable to
invest in what they think is a good game that is
where the Union has to now start to do public
relations, proper marketing and sales. The Air Chief
Marshall has a task and a half on his hand so does
Q: Do you think the core issue facing the
SLRFU today is finance?
CP: It has been for many years. It is difficult for
the SLRFU as they need to try and look at it in
their given term how soon they can get this game
rolling or get proper investment in, except for
cricket which has the luxury of being an
international sport where we are among the top three
in the world. The dream of all sports in Sri Lanka
is we get the cricket model right and then we follow
it without the hoo-ha. Rugby needs to follow the
examples of the smaller nations which have been
successful like Samoa and France. We must get help
we canít on our own do it. In 100 years of Sri
Lankan rugby we have taken one step at a time. From
my playing days we havenít gone that far in terms of
where we are. I believe the President whose young
sons are rugby players themselves it is a perfect
time. If we cannot use all of that support and
passion and commitment now we are going to be lost
in the future. Itís almost as somebody had planned
it to have the President of a country and the First
Lady also come to watch a rugby match. There
certainly has to be a little continuation with the
lads also playing.
Q: There is the age old notion that Sri
Lankans because of their small stature find it
difficult to make an impact with bigger rugby
playing nations, how do you hope to overcome that?
CP: If you look at schools rugby now there are some
very big kids but the levels of fitness are not
anywhere near the requirement as we found out very
quickly with the new list. It is difficult to accept
but the fact is that you need to have a very high
performance level not just average level. There is
no such thing as average anymore. To be able to
perform in Asia and then again in the World you have
to be almost gladiators they are not average human
beings anymore. They are performance machines and
they are conditioned, very fit and very strong. The
big men are running more than anything else. We need
to get our bigger boys playing the game a lot more.
15-a-side rugby is all about pack and forwards. We
need to get some very big impact forwards who are
fit, agile and mobile and the hand-eye co-ordination
has to be massive. I personally think we might gain
some knowledge from the likes of Australia and South
Africa. We need to look at how they are structuring
their kids. Some of these Samoans and Fijians are
very much the same stature as us when they are 14-15
then suddenly there is something in their bone
structure genetic and they get bigger. We have very
proud hearts and huge amounts of passion. Those big
hearts now need to translate into the stature and
the body impact. Our nutrition habits also have to
change we have to go away from eating all that
wonderful tasty food to eating nutrition. Itís not
something we like but something we need. It has to
happen very quickly. Sri Lanka Cricket is doing that
Q: Your views on doping in sport?
CP: We need to stop players taking performance
enhancing drugs. There is no substitute for hard
work. Sri Lanka is unfortunate to be caught up in a
lack of information more than anything else.
Actually you need to know what you are taking. Even
if you are taking medication you have to inform. We
need to educate and create much awareness. The
talented ones I believe should rely on hard work and
take natural food. If you want extra protein eat the
whites of eggs, if you want to build that up eat the
pulses like moong and parippu thatís what the
Fijians do. They eat the manioc and the fish. At the
end of the day WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) only
recognises that the player is responsible. We also
need to list the player, coaches, trainers and
doctors recommending these substances.
Q: Your most memorable moments in rugby?
CP: I was considered as one of the fastest players
in rugby during my time 1980-95. I played for Rosen
Park and Harlequins in England and then for CH & FC
and Sri Lanka. I was blessed. I was an athlete a 100
metres sprinter and my best time was 10.4 secs, now
thatís long gone. In my day it was very much open
rugby (I hope it comes back). Sevens was my game it
gave the opportunity of an open field and just take
off and run. My last year of playing rugby I had the
opportunity to play against Jonah Lomu (the All
Blacks rugby legend) and I still feel the impact on
my chest and on my head as he stepped past me.
Winning in Hong Kong in front of 50,000 people was
fabulous in 1984 under Hisham Abdeen. Ten years
later in Fiji when I was captain to have all of Fiji
stand up in the stadium and shout ďSri Lanka, Sri
LankaĒ when we won the Bowl there beating Uruguay
was fabulous. I want to translate all of that and
give some input into the new generation and with Sri
Lanka rugby. I am very hopeful.
|Four year plan
The Gunasekara Committee Report on the
poor performances of the Sri Lankan athletes at the
16th Asian Games in 2010 resulted in a comprehensive
action plan for athletics being drawn up for the
next four years.
The committee was headed by KS Gunasekara and
included Dr. Maiya Gunasekara and Ms Nelum
The four year plan to develop athletics is currently
being prepared with the help of the Sri Lanka
Athletics Association and the advice and suggestions
of eminent athletics coaches and advisors such as
Dervin Perera, Yogananda Wijesundara, Sunil
Gunawardane, Sriyani Kulawansa, Sugath
Thilakarathna, BJ Rodrigo, Rohan Pradeep Kumara, and
Lt. Col. Dissanayake.
Attention is to be paid to areas such as setting up
training pools, naming coaches, paying close
attention to schoolsí athletics, monitoring the
Kreeda Shakthi programme, bringing in foreign
coaches to train our athletes, and concentrating
heavily on developing the specific disciplines in
which Sri Lanka can win medals.
Meanwhile, former director of the National Sports
Institute, Yogananda Wijesundara, has been appointed
director of coaching under whose close supervision
the following coaches will work on their respective
specialty: Sunil Gunawardena (short distance),
Sajith Jayalal, (middle distance) YK Kularatna
(jumping events), B.J Rodrigo (throwing events), Lt.
Col. Dissanayaka (long distance) and Dervin Perera
The Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage is
also expected to keep a watchful eye on the progress
and said he wanted the focus to be on better
performances at the next Olympic, Commonwealth and
South Asian Games and gain more medals with this new
maiden win in mercantile cricket
compiled innings by opening batsman Hasitha Perera
(89 runs in 77 balls with 11 fours, a six) and a
brilliant spell of bowling by Umayanga Premakumara
(4.1-11-6) propelled Citizens Development Bank as
they got to a crushing 115 runs win over TechĖOne
Global in the ongoing Stafford Motor Challenge
Trophy, MCA Centenary Year 2011 ĎGí Division, 30
overs League Tournament.
Debutants Airtel secured their very first win in
mercantile cricket, beating Technomedics by 33 runs,
thanks to a good spell of pace bowling by Mahesh
Amarasinghe (5-29-5) and a generous dose of 41
extras contributed by their opponents.
A superb second-wicket partnership of 130 runs
between DP Mitipolaarachchi (75 runs in 46 balls,
with 11 fours and 2 sixes) and DK Harishchandra (55
not out) gave Lankem Ceylon a heart-stopping 6
wickets win with 4 balls to spare.
Thurstan: Expolanka beat Glaxo Smithkline by 6
GSK 122 (26.2) (N. Jayatillake 30, I. Sahabdeen 30,
L. Fernando 32, S. Fernando 3/19)
Expolanka 123-4 (17.5) (MI Ghouse 30, A. Ameer 35
n.o., S. Dias 3/35)
Thurstan: Citizens Development Bank beat Tech-One
Global by 115 runs.
CDB 204-5 (30) (Hasitha Perera 89, Y.Liyanage 36, L.
Tech-One Global 89 (21.1) (D. John 30, M. de Silva
21, and Umayanga Premakumara 6/11)
Thurstan: NDB Bank beat MAC Holdings by 9
MAC Holdings 92 (27.3) (S. Gunawardena 31, I.
Ratnayake 4/20, R. Rupasinghe 2/10)
NDB 95-1 (14.0) (Z. Roshan 55)
Thurstan: Swedish Trading beat Janashakthi ĎCí by
Janashakthi ĎCí 152 (27.5) (S. Sampan 52, M.
Kodituwakku 2/25, S. Gunatillake 3/30)
Swedish Trading 153-5 (22.5) (P.Nishan 35, K.
Vithanage 26, A. Jayasuriya 32, N. Wijesiri 28 not
out, K. Fernanado 2/35)
Ananda: Interpharma beat McCallum Cargo by 7
McCallum Cargo 161 (28.5) (D. Saranga 28, Selwin
Perera 26, A. de Mel 21, D. Peiris 24, L.
Suwandaratne 22 n.o., KA Kamal, 2/18, S. Fernando
3/20, M. Gunatillake 2/45)
Interpharma 162-3 (22.4) (P. Sankalpa 49, D. Sanjaya
30, S.Niroshan 45, M. Gunatillake 21 n.o.)
Ananda: Hemas Holdings beat MJF Group by 9
MJF 81 (19.5) (M. Warnakula 20 n.o., S. Lindsay
4/19, C. Balasuriya 2/15, M. Perera 3/23)
Hemas 82-1 (8.4) (N. Fernanado 42, N. Kodituwakku 25
Wesley: Virtusa beat Lanka Bell by one wicket.
Lanka Bell 156 (29.3) (S. de Silva 31, C. Kodikara
36, L. Liyanage 2/18, K. Surendra 2/17)
Virtusa 157-9 (29) (K. Surendren 20, N. Tharanga 25,
B. Supun 30 n.o., N. Payoe 21, C. Srimal 3/40, C.
Wesley: HNB Assurance beat Creasey Darley by 7
Creasey Darley 105 (23.5) (ARS Mohamed 30, C.
Bandara 2/13, GS Nadunge 2/15, S. Senanayake 3/20)
HNB Assurance 106-3 (17.2) (R. de Z. Gunawardena 55
SBC: Lankem Ceylon beat Deutsche Bank by 6
Deutsche Bank 142-6 (20) (P. Jayasinghe 21, Rally
Tissera 52, T. de S. Wijeratne 20, P. Gamage 20
n.o., C. Kumara 2/18)
Lankem Ceylon 148 -4, (19.2) (DP Mitipolaarachchi
75, DK Harishchandra 55 n.o.)
SBC: Airtel beat Technomedics by 33 runs.
Airtel 151 (27.2) (P. Ousmand 25, L. Perera 28, F.
Amanulla 30, S. Shadik 3/20, J. Priyantha 3/40, S.
Technomedics 118 (17) (I. S. Kumara 27, S. Shadik
25, M. Amarasinghe 5/29, D. Chandana 3/35) Ė [LW]
Charity Golf Tournament
|The AmCham Charity Golf tournament has been an
immense success throughout 11 consecutive years.
Over the past 11 years the funds raised from the
tournament have helped and supported different areas
of need in our community; the first yearís recipient
was the Young Entrepreneurs of Sri Lanka where
up-coming business leaders were the beneficiaries.
The second yearís the proceeds were presented to
Jaipur Limb Foundation for purchasing prosthetic
limbs for the disabled. Castle Street Maternity
Hospital was the third yearís recipient where the
funds were used to upgrade the facilities at the
hospital. Respectively, over the years the proceeds
have been donated to the Cancer Hospital Maharagama,
the Navodaya Special Education Residence School for
boys in Kandy, the Ceylon School for the Deaf and
Blind, the Halpotha Childrenís Home in Hikkaduwa and
for the second time, the Castle Street Maternity
Hospital in 2009.
The proceeds from the tournament held in 2010 will
be utilised for educational needs of the children of
the Golf Club staff residing in the surrounding
area. The presentation of gifts and the scholarship
to an identified deserving student will take place
on Sunday (June 26) at the Royal Colombo Golf Club.