Sports for peaceful and healthy society- President
The people of Sri Lanka have been passing a era of victories during
the past few months. Today the people of Kalutara specially the
sportsmen and women are enjoying the grand opening of a fully fledged
Sports complex in Kalutara, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was the
chief guest at the opening of the Vernon U. Fernando stadium yesterday.
This was his first public appearance since the victory at the Southern
Province Council Elections.
He said that the first phase of the complex was opened by him as the
Prime Minister exactly four years ago and today I am happy to declare
open the next stage as President of this country. This is one of the
greatest victories we are achieving after the country was liberated. We
are in a position to come here safely mainly due to the efforts of the
three armed forces who sacrificed their lives for the cause.
With this we have ushered in democracy especially to the North and
East and we gave the people the opportunity to elect their
representatives too. This has proved heavy dividends to the sporting
arena too. In the recent past sportsmen and women from North and East
were seen participating in large numbers at many sporting events held
throughout the country.
The President added that the Football Federation had been in the
forefront in developing stadiums for the benefit of the the soccerites
and has taken many steps to promote the game here in Sri Lanka. These
achievements are mainly due to the efforts of Manilal Fernando the man
from Kalutara District who had kept a close watch on the game of soccer
in the past. He had also helped the sport to such a great extent that
Kalutara has become a town crazy for football.
The President said that lawyer Fernando had used his good offices to
get the necessary finances through the FIFA and AFC for the purpose. He
also has made huge contribution from his personal funds and named the
stadium after his late father Vernon U. Fernando. This is a huge
contribution made for the country and the people.
He requested Fernando not to stop at this but also to help construct
stadiums of this nature in outstations too to improve the sports which
will in return make things easy for the people live in peace. Sport is a
thing that can bind people together for peace and prosperity so it is
vital to develop sports in the country.
President also made a humble request to make arrangements to have an
indoor stadium constructed in Kalutara District which will have all
aspects of sports. He added that funds will be allocated soon to develop
the Kalutara Balika Vidyalaya school ground.
With the sort of stadiums coming up in various parts of the country
with young ones taking to sports the country will have a peaceful and a
healthy society as this will teach the younger generation to accept
victory and defeat in a disciplined manner.
He also thanked the mother of Manilal Fernando for being present on
the occasion to see the good work done by the her son in honor of his
late father Vernon U. Fernando.
Mohamed Bin Hammad the President of the Asian Football Federation
addressing the gathering said that it is a pleasure to be present here
on this historic day to see another milestone reached by Manilal
Fernando who is a hard worker. He as Vice President of the AFC took a
keen interest in obtaining the funds from the FIFA and AFC for Tsunami
Projects for the purpose of developing the grounds that were destroyed
by the same.
Manilal Fernando while thanking the President and the invitees said
that he has completed the Kalutara Sports Complex project and tomorrow
will see the emergence of a another stadium in Colombo, while a third
will see its opening on Wednesday in Mannar.
The fourth stadium through the tsunami project funds will come up in
Ampara soon. Already ten football stadiums in different parts of the
country are in use and steps will be taken to develop them in the near
future, he said.
He paid a glowing tribute to FIFA, AFC and the Basel FC from
Switzerland for their generous support extended towards these projects.
Secretary to the Asian Football Confederation, Alex Appaloosa, PA to
the AFC President Mohamed Shadiness, Gigiís Teri from Basel FC SCORT
Switzerland, and Ambassador to the Switzerland were the special guests.
Sport Minister Gamini Lokuge, Minister for Nation Building Rohitha
Abeygunawardena, Western Provincial Council Chief Minister Prasanna
Ranatunga, Kalutara District Parliamentarians and many distinguished
invitees were present on the occasion.