Iswan and Harris Omar – only father and son duo to lead Kandy SC | Daily News

Iswan and Harris Omar – only father and son duo to lead Kandy SC

Some of the great players got me thinking about other wonderfully talented sportsmen of the past who have been forgotten or who may not be known to younger players. There is so much to learn from those top players about what true grit is, what sacrifice means, what passion entails.

Today’s sportsmen and officials can learn much from the attitudes and spirit of the former players. I hear from so many people that sportsmen today are gifted because they have all the facilities and resources needed to hone their talents, and they get generous rewards for winning. I also hear that some have been spoiled by these rewards.

In the history of Kandy Sports Club rugby, Iswan Omar and Harris Omar are the only father and son duo who led the club at rugby. Both hail from a sporting family. Iswan’s father A.H.K. Omar was a fine cricketer and led St. Anthony’s College in 1928 and later played for Kandy Sports Club and Central Province. He was a fine all-rounder, a medium pace bowler and a hard-hitting batsman. He was also a superb cover point fielder.

Iswan started his rugby at Trinity College under the guidance of Hilary Abeyaratne and first played for the under 15 side as a prop forward and as a second-row forward for the under 17. He then played till 1969 for the senior team. For the senior side he started off as a ‘prop’ and later played as a third-row forward.

Some of his teammates were Ajith Abeyratne, Shafie Jainudeen, J.K. Furlong, Irwin Howie, Gamini Udugama, Mohan Balasuriya, Anura S.B. Madawela, Mohan Samarakoon, Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, Y.S. Ping, Sam Samarasekara, B. Shanhi Kumar, N.T.B. Dissanayake, and H. Afeef.

Iswan was awarded colours in 1967 and the ‘Lion’ in 1969. As a schoolboy in 1969 along with Shafie Jainudeen and Fredrick Prins, Iswan was invited to play for the Kandy Sports Club in the Clifford Cup knock-out that year. The Kandy club entered the final after 25 years led by Gen. Denzil Kobbekkduwa where they lost to CR and FC. He also played for the Combined Schools team.

Then he crossed over to Kandy Lake Club and later played and led Kandy RFC. In 1974 when Kandy Lake Club and Kandy RFC amalgamated, he rejoined Kandy Sports Club and led the side in 1975 during the Presidency of late E.W. Balasuriya.

These two were first to captain and be president from the amalgamated club. In that year Kandy SC entered the Clifford Cup semi-finals and lost to Air Force SC during extra-time. Some of the players in the squad, and the names I can remember are Sunil Munasinghe, H.G. Ariyaratne, D.H. Rajaguru, Nimal Malagamuwa, Jadi Dissanayake, Christoper Anderson, Ashad Dole, Irwin Howie, Sam Samarasekara, Bola Gunaratne, Sunil Serasinghe.

Iswan was a fine player and a good leader. He was in the 1974 Sri Lanka pool but had to pull out due to his long standing knee-injury that put a halt to his rugby at national level. From Kandy Sports Club he took up planting and joined Uva Gymkhana Club, Dimbulla ACC and Dickoya MCC also played and for the Up Country team.

After chucking up planting, he returned to Kandy Sports Club and became a committee member, Secretary and was the chief organizer of the Singer-SriLankan Airlines International Rugby Sevens for ten years. He also became Secretary of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union.

His son Harris Omar, like his father played for Trinity College first. He started as a scrum-half in the under 17 side under the guidance of Janaka Kiridena and Lohan Rawatte. While playing for the under 17, he was invited to play for the senior team as a third-row forward and ended up as ‘Number eight’ and led the side in his last year winning the ‘Bradby’. He had the rare privilege of leading the Sri Lanka under 19 team and later the under 21 team. While at school, he played for Kandy Sports Club and was one of the finest third-row forwards.

He led the Kandy Sports Club team in 1999. It was under his leadership and Priyantha Ekanayake’s coaching that they won the Inter-Club Sevens for the first time. Harris also led the Sri Lanka team at the Asiad.

After he led the Sri Lanka team, he hung up his boots and pursued higher studies. He was also served on the executive committee of the SLRFU.


 

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