FERNANDO will be the cynosure of all eyes | Daily News

FERNANDO will be the cynosure of all eyes

Better late than never goes the saying and although belated, ‘COMMENT’ wishes the new Minister of Sport HARIN FERNANDO all the best in his new innings at the crease and that he will score heavily for sport in the New Year. He will be the cynosure of all eyes.

It is hoped, and if his Press briefings are indications, then he means business and will earn applause from all sportsmen, women and the administrators.

He has taken strike and the new innings that he is expected to play, is on a wicket that is certainly not a shirtfront according to cricketing parlance is also not going to be a bed of roses. It could be best described as being on a bed of nails. FERNANDO was a fast breaking attacking rugby centre who blended well with his team mates and scrummed and pushed to bring his school St. Joseph’s College and CR and FC many a rugby victory.

Knowing what sport is all about and having played it at the highest levels, he will have a first-hand knowledge of what playing sport is all about.

But the sport he is now going to play is going to be very much different from actively participating. We say this because in our more than 50 years of sports writing, the field that he is going to play on is full of intrigue, in fighting and to put it simply filled with landmines and he will have to walk the gauntlet, with as batsmen do wearing helmets. We ask for the use of helmets, because he will have to face vicious bouncers bowled from all quarters in sport administration and he will have to stand tall and choose the deliveries bowled and face and hook them with ease, careful not to be hit.

FERNANDO’S father Nihal and uncle Miilroy were Old Benedictines. While his father Nihal preferred the books, his uncle Milroy was an outstanding soccerite playing for the Green, White and Green school in 1967 under the competent captaincy of an excellent defender Tilak Pieris.

According to Pieris who captained SBC and the Combined schools team in 1968 for the Asian Championships in Bangkok, Milroy was an outstanding defender who guarded the goal as if his life depended on it and carried a booming kick that would take the ball well past the opponents half. Milroy was known as a ‘gal’ back for he was tough as nails. Sadly Miroy is no more. Pieris was also a motor racing champion.

According to Pieris who headed the Veterans Soccer Association and did wonders to see to the progress of veterans soccer, FERNANDO was a keen promoter of the Badulla Veterans soccer team and gave his all to promote the game and Badulla won the 11-a-side Veterans tournament a few times. He made it a point to accompany the veterans whenever they played in Colombo.

That Benedictine team that was captained by Pieris and included Milroy was coached by that great centre and famed coach B.Albert Fernando, the first Sri Lankan to obtain a Brazilian Trainer’s Licence. He trained with the great Pele. On his return he introduced the Brazilian style of play which was breathtaking dribbling and the Benedictine soccerites were a great draw wherever or when ever they played. FERNANDO later obtained a German trainer’s licence too. Sadly he is no more.

But HARIN’S father preferred HARIN going to the Blue, White And Blue school at Darley Road where in addition to his studies, he played outstanding rugby for the school.

Incidentally HARIN’S grandfather Boniface was a leading and successful businessman. He had a company named the Paradise Produce Corporation and built a palace-like house in Wattala in the early 1960s which palace as a schoolboy if my memory serves me right had the first ever remote controlled gate.That palace is now called Hotel Samara.

From the time that the Dudley Senanayake Government opted for a Ministry of Sport and appointed the all round illustrious sportsman V.A. Sugathadasa to captain it, sport has improved and progressed. But it could have been better.

Sugathadasa adorned that position adroitly and with aplomb. Sugathadasa was a penetrative striker at soccer and a boxer at SBC and it is said that Sugathadasa had the opportunity to dribble past his Prime Minister to be Dudley Senanayake who played in a similar position at STCML and score the winning goal for the Kotahena school.

Back to HARIN and while he will have to spread his tentacles overseeing the many sports in the country, the sport that will hold his attention will be cricket, undoubtedly the number one and most popular sport in the country.

In fronting up to the media in the opening salvo, FERNANDO played a straight bat saying that he will do everything in his endeavour to bring sports back to its former glory. FERNANDO was especially keen on seeing that cricket hits the big time again. He is toying with the idea of installing another Interim Committee to run cricket. Interim means temporary. What cricket needs is a permanent and longer innings. What the International Cricket Council insists is that an elected body be formed to run the game.

In attempting to put right the shortcomings at Sri Lanka Cricket, FERNANDO is facing a ‘doosra’ which he will not find easy to negotiate. But if he could get the former greats to show him how, he could put cricket on the right pitch.

FERNANDO must see that he has an energetic, honest and hard working secretary who is very important to him and who will direct the innings he is set to play. And talking of a secretary, the one who adorned that position with great efficiency and played a great innings and who comes to

mind was the one and only Lionel Madugalle, father of the famed Ranjan. In working for K.B. Ratnayake and Vincent Perera he made their jobs that much easier by using his efficiency and know how and Ratnayake and Perera admired his work and were full of praise for him. Madugalle treated two stormy petrels of sport at that time with kid gloves – Abu Fuard of cricket fame and J.S.N.Anandaraja of soccer fame.

HARIN FERNANDO joins a growing list of Sports Ministers who served earlier starting with V.A.Sugathadasa, K.B. Ratnayake, Vincent Perera,

Nanda Mathew, S.B. Dissanayake, Mangala Samaraweera, Lakshman Kiriella, Johnston Fernando, Jeewan Kumaratunga, Gamini Lokuge, C.B. Ratnayeke, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Navin Dissanayeke, Daya Jayasekera and Faizer Mustapha.

FERNANDO now joins this band and how he will go will be watched with keen interest by sportsmen, women and the sports loving public. Sugathadasa and Ratnayake were outstanding as Ministers of Sport. [email protected]


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