Sunday, 28th December 2014

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Three great sportsmen remembered

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Kandy remembers three great sports promoters who passed away 19 years ago - Gamini Dissanayake President of the Cricket Board, Weerasinghe Mallimarachchi President of the Sri Lanka Football Federation and Gamini Wijesekara Vice President Cricket Board. All three of them died unexpectedly in a bomb blast early on October 24, 1994. This brought much sorrow to thousands, reminding us of the words of the Buddha in the Dhammapada: “Neither in the sky, nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world is there a place where one will not be overcome by death.”

Gamini Dissanayake - At the time of his death was the president of the Cricket Board. The jovial and happy friend to all departed suddenly. He was keenly involved in politics; he mixed with people of all walks of life and was a master promoter of cricket. He is the man who went all out to get Test Status for us, and also helped develop the Trinity College grounds at Asgiriya to International standard. His sincerity and personal integrity were never in question. A gentleman to a fault, his personal charm and ability to make friends with people from even the lowest strata of society made him a popular figure.

It was Gamini who argued Sri Lanka’s case successfully for admittance to the ICC as a full member at the ICC meeting at Lords in 1981. This saw Sri Lanka being granted Test status.  Under his Presidency Sri Lanka won the first Test, when Sri Lanka led by Duleep Mendis on that September 14, 1985, beat India at P.Sara Stadium. And followed it by beating Pakistan in the second Test at CCC grounds in March 1986, and then won the prestigious Asia Cup beating Pakistan at the SSC.

As long as cricket is played in our country, Gamini’s name will be remembered as a product of Trinity College who built the Cricket Board Head Quarters at SSC grounds. Weerasinghe Mallimarachchi - Another product of Kandy, gave a big hand for football. He was roped into football by Manilal Fernando and he gave his best during his time as Football Federation’s President.  He did a lot for the game and football was played every where, and the game flourished. Known as Malli he was a multi-faceted character and shone as a sportsman, philanthropist and social worker, and was a friend to all. In the field of football he was a good organisr and there was nothing insurmountable for him, and he was well backed and supported by Manilal.

What looked colossal to us was so casual to him. To his friends and all football minded people the loss is indeed a sad and unbearable that still at football fixtures they talk about his good work. Dr. Gamini Wijesekara - Started schooling at St. Sylvester’s, went to Kingswood College and Ananda College Colombo from where he entered Medical College. Gamini was a vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket, during the time of his death. During his days he was a fine cricketer. He was a keen follower of the game and also a fine promoter, his main aim was to promote cricket in the outstations. Whenever there was a problem for outstation cricket, he came up with a smile and took care of their needs.So, the sports loving public of Kandy will always remember all three of you who made that last journey in October 1994.May all three attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

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