The sorry state of football in Kandy | Daily News


The sorry state of football in Kandy

Kandy had its baptism in football during World War One when the British units were stationed there with the onetime Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces stationed in South East Asia, Admiral Lord Louis Mountabatten having his headquarters in the hill capital. Several top British footballers displayed their versatility, representing the Kingstown and Queenstown regiments, the Royal artillery and also the West African Rifles, which had quite a few Negro stars in it. Football was the main sport at that time in the hills.

The game increased in popularity day by day, because it was played with great interest. The sport with foreign flavor was getting popular and it was played everywhere. Some were seen playing it in the streets and also where any space was available football was played. The late doyen of sports M. S. Jainudeen, was the kingpin, and the man behind the scene who formed the Kandy Amateur Football league with support from the Foreign Military men and some other keen men of Kandy in the early 1940’s.

The KAFL subsequently changed its name to Kandy District Football League and also served football in Matale, Nawalapitiya, Gampola, Kurunegala and Kegalle. As the years rolled by these towns formed their own leagues. When football in Colombo and elsewhere received a setback as far as Ceylonese exponents of the game were concerned, the game was more or less confined to the permanent population as well as to the Services. Early in 1942, however, there appeared to be a lack of interest in the game and the efforts made by S.C. Traill, the then secretary to call a meeting of the League having failed was compelled to return the trophies to the donors.

Then came the Kandy Football Referees Association with pioneers like Philip Buultjens, Kingsley Abeyasinghe, R. Jaymon, S. A. C. “Gunner” Mohideen as active referees and later A. J. M. Yusuf, M. E. Marikar, Tom Ossen, A. Razak, B.D. Alfred, J. Jinadasa, T.T. Jamal, M. K. Mohamed, M. Jamaldeen and K.L.H. Suriman Wickremasinghe,

During that time Col. V. H. L. Anthonis, A. C. L. Ratwatte and E. L. Senanayake former Mayor and Minister gave a big hand with Jainudeen as the secretary. In mid 1970’s Dr. C. D. L. Fernando took over the presidency and held it till his death in the mid 1980’s. From him William Premaratne took over and in the 1990’s football was almost dying until Police officer B.M. Liyanage came on the scene and once again football hit the top by winning the Everyday trophy for the first time. At that time Liyanage was in UK on a mission and Hafiz Marikar acted as its president. That is the time the Kandy Football League won a title for the first time - the inter-league plum by beating the strong Police SC at Ratnapura in 1992. That win earned them a tour to Nepal and they also won there. Later through the Kandy league, Liyanage became the president of the FFSL and Hafiz Marikar was one time, Secretary Administration, Team Manager and Secretary General - both were firsts from Kandy to hold these positions.

Till the year 2001, the keen football lover kept the game going strong, and the sport was at its best. Today it is difficult to say, if the game is of the same standard as in the good old days. Will Kandy’s football reach its past glory? It is sad to note how Kandy has forgotten their football. For many years no AGM or tournaments at club level have been played.

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