Nimal Lewke rugby coach par excellence | Daily News


Nimal Lewke rugby coach par excellence

Kandy’s rugby lovers stil talk about Kandy born Nimal Lewke’s contribution for Kandy Sports Club, which should be weighed in gold. He never played rugby for the school, at that time there was no rugby at his school.

He started his rugby at Kandy Sports club and later took to coaching.It was he who guided the club to win the first triple crown 25 years ago, . It all started in 1995 mid-season where at the end of the first leg Kandy S.C. was placed 4th in the League table and at this point Kandy SC rugby livewire, Trustee and the man with a vision Malik Samarawickrema along with Former Policeman Hemantha Yatawara got through to Nimal Lewke and made the request to him to coach his former club (KSC). It was a huge challenge for Lewke as he was based in Vavuniya as SSP in charge of the Police Division, where the earlier SSP was assassinated inside his own office by a terror group using an IED. Lewke occupied the same office; The situation in the area too was very hostile

Nimal Lewke at this point had to look into many aspects apart from his personal security his biggest task was to travel to Kandy through a terror infected terrain being a professional who has undergone many counter terror training programmes had a plan as he was fully aware that most VIP assassinations (90%) all over the world was when in movement. To meet the challenge he had an excellent deception plan which he even at this point was not prepared to speak about but he was really grateful to Kishin Butani for solidly backing him and also to Sarath Perera and Malath Fernando of Kandy SC committee for the resources provided to him to travel to Kandy two days a week which was the turning point. the rest is history. Also Dr.Sarath Kapuwatte, Hassan Sinhawansa, Siva Subramanium and this writer gave him the backing.

Kandy won the Triple Crown that season followed up to 1997, they had a resounding season where third in the League Havelock SC was beaten 95-0 which was also a record in the club history. He had outstanding players in the calibre of Priyantha and L.VEkanayake, Indrajith Banadaranayake, Lasantha Wijesooriya, Sudath Sampath, Imthi Marikkar, Nalin Dissanayake, Tuan Bohoran, Asoka Jayasena and School boy products such as Harris Omar, Pradeep Basnayake, Suranga Amarasinghe Veteran Saman Kotelawala and three Fijians Kiti, Qoro and Millie.

He went on to be the Sri Lanka Coach where he had an outstanding career. Thomians under Gavin Jayasekara coached by Lewke was the unbeaten Schools league champions in the year2000. This record is still intact, after 20 years. Commenting on same Lewke said, there were no ‘imports” all were out and out Thomians and almost 12 of them from S. Thomas prep school, which had very limited exposure at junior level rugby. They had Goonathileka brothers Jeewan and Jayan, Indrajit Perera, Gavin Jayasekara, Deva Corea, Ashen Karthelis, Mubarak, Madushka Perera, Dilsiri Welikala, Wimalasooriya, Amila Mudushanka,Suraj Rajapakse, Jason Jayasekara, Suresh Kandiah and the late WasimThajudeen.

Warden. Neville De Alwis,Master in charge – Upali. Nanayakkara, Junior Coach, A.L F Fernando were a tower of strength to him. As Head coach, he supervised the junior development squad, which included the present young Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and his two brothers The three sons were involved regularly. He one day told me that Mahinda Rajapaksa the present Prime Minister used to watch rugby practices where his three sons were involved and commended his good work.

For Nimal Lewke, if there is a will, there was a way and it is significant to note both Kandy S.C and S. Thomas’ which hired foreign professional coaches later couldn’t achieve what Lewke achieved as a part time coach

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