Appreciation: Sampath AGALAWATTE – Scholar, Sportsman and Gentleman | Daily News

Appreciation: Sampath AGALAWATTE – Scholar, Sportsman and Gentleman

Sampath Agalawatte
Sampath Agalawatte

Sampath Agalawatte popularly known as “Agale”, passed away a week short of his 53rd birthday.

He was the youngest of three boys following Dammika and Manjulla sons of the late Mr. Hema Agalawatte, a district court judge and late Mrs. Karuna, a proud home maker. A much loved son, he was very dutiful particularly so during his mother’s latter years.

Sampath was a devoted husband to Dilhani and a loving father to Samali, Samal and Sahan. We pray they find strength and comfort at this time of sorrow.

Agale was the quintessential all-rounder at Royal College. An intelligent student who secured the much coveted Donhurst memorial prize for best student, an excellent sportsman in athletics, badminton, cricket and rugby. Although, rugby was his preferred sport captaining the RC 1st XV in 1984.

Under his captaincy, the Royal XV were undefeated sweeping all before them by winning back the blue ribbon of schools rugby the Bradby shield after a span of three years, the Gunaratne trophy against the Thomian’s, the Philip Buultjens 7-a-side trophy and the league champions trophy.

He led the team on a tour of Thailand at the end of that season. He continued to lead from the front ensuring the team kept the “Royal fame inviolate” by not just winning all their games on tour but showed tremendous humility and maturity as wonderful ambassadors of Royal College, school rugby and indeed Sri Lanka.

Upon leaving school, Agale joined HSBC bank. Quickly establishing himself as an integral part of his new team. His amiable ways endeared him to a broader socio-economic circle and he thrived in the learning environment of the international financial institution, whilst carving out a corporate profile leveraging his sporting prowess in mercantile sporting events.

He subsequently joined MAS further consolidating his rapid learning of the business world and enhancing his business acumen as he moved up the senior management ranks.

The pinnacle of his career journey however was his time as Chief Executive Officer of TVS Lanka.

A role he enjoyed very much as it enabled him to bring to the fore, his natural leadership attributes. He demanded the best from his team just as much as he demanded of himself. A true “servant leader”, he would always find time to coach, nurture and mentor emerging talent.

Agale’s caring nature knew no bounds. He was never too busy or never too tired to extend support and assistance to just about anyone. Always at the ready to do whatever necessary to help a friend or an acquaintance. Too numerous are the occasions to remember, where he has opened his home to family of friends visiting from overseas.

On one occasion he vehemently insisted that my parents visiting from Australia stayed with him despite them having many options for accommodation with family. His extraordinary care and attention in ensuring all of their needs were attended to including a driver and car was most convenient and greatly appreciated by my aging parents.

He later explained that he was the recipient of their hospitality on one of his visits to Melbourne at an earlier time.

Many would recall events, incidents and recollections of similar kind deeds. Yet the accumulation of it all was indeed the essence of the gentleman. Making time to be with elderly parents of his friends who he knew were overseas or just too busy to be there themselves. He stepped up to bring comfort and companionship. Genuinely interested in their well-being. Such was his nature. A gentle soul.

A fun loving, “happy go lucky” disposition. A loyal trustworthy friend. A “son” to so many.

I will immerse my sadness in the memories of his calm and reassuring voice of reason. His cheeky sense of humour. His keen sense of fair play on and off the field. His unassuming approach to life’s ups and downs. His exceptional compassion and empathy for the less fortunate.

An endearing legacy of a life taken in its prime. The good, they do die young, don’t they?

The game they play in heaven, just got yet another outstanding player with a heart of gold the size of a rugby ball!

Rest in peace Agale` my friend.

- Ted Hiran Muttiah


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