Michael Jayasekera ruggerite par excellence | Daily News


 

Michael Jayasekera ruggerite par excellence

Michael Jayasekera
Michael Jayasekera

It is very rare to see a person who excels in his career as a sportsman and as an academic who is highly recognized in the community. Michael Jayasekera is one of them who became the cynosure of all eyes by engaging himself in both sports and education, which made him a prominent figure in the country.

Popularly known as ‘Mikey’ in sporting circles, Michael started his school career with St. Peters College, Colombo from junior school and went on to complete his Ordinary level examination there. He then moved to St.Thomas College, Mount Lavinia for his further studies as most of his family members passed out as Thomians. Michael’s first love in sports was cricket and gradually moved in to take part in Rugby, Athletics and Basketball at St. Peters, where he won college colours for participating in these games.

He hails from a sports loving family as his elder brother Ralston Jayasekera was actively involved in Rugby and Athletics in school while his two sisters also excelled in sports at St.Lawrences Convent in Wellawatte.

His father Earle Jayasekera was a great cricket enthusiast and Michaels cousins Mohan and Ajith who played cricket for S Thomas were instrumental in motivating him to take up sports especially cricket. He embarked on his cricketing career way back in 1968 representing the college under-12 team. From there he matured as a talented cricketer and established himself as a regular member of the college cricket team. He played in the first XI cricket and First XV rugby teams as well as representing Basketball at the age of fifteen years.

Archibald Perera in Rugby, Mike Chanmugam in cricket remained as coaches at college and these two have played a key role in moulding him as a talented player in the respective sports.

In 1974 he crossed over to St.Thomas College to continue his higher studies. He was compelled to leave out Basketball while remaining in the other sports due to the clash with the Cricket season. He was fortunate to play along with some great players in that era like Saliya Ahangama, Ishak Sahabdeen, the late Guy de Alwis, and Ajith Ganeshan who were members of the school senior team.

While being there he established a 110-metre hurdles record at the all island schools championship in the under-19 age category. Due to his prolific form in cricket in 1976 he was selected to represent the Sri Lanka school team to tour Pakistan, which got interrupted, after their Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was killed resulting in the tour being cancelled. The administrators opted to take them to Jaffna to take on the combined club team which they won, where he went on to score a match winning 96, which earned him the best batsman award. Former National cricketer Ranjan Madugalle was also a member of that team. Going down memory lane he recalled his swashbuckling innings which guided Thomians to victory against Wesley at home, by scoring 100 runs in 10 overs, which he rates as one of the unforgettable achievements in the school arena.

In rugby he was associated with some top class players like Stefan D’ Silva, P.L.Munasinghe who were coached by late legendary Quentin Israel After school he qualified as a Marine engineer which held him back from continuing his cricket career.

His club rugby career started in1976 as a school boy when he joined Havelock Sports Club to play under Thajone Savanghan. He occupied the fly half position in the first few games under the watchful eyes of Dr. Larry Foenander and Gamini Fernando as his coaches. Till 1981, he played as a regular member of the Park Club team with Angelo Wickremaratne, Anton Benedict, Hisham Abdeen, Frank Hubert, Jeffery Yu and late Jeffrey De jong, , Sandy Hamid, Hanzil Samad, Lanil Tennakoon, Ronald Rodrigo, Gavin Stevens, Jeyer Rodriguesz. In 1978 he was a member of the triple crown winning team under Anton Benedict for the first time in their club history.

After he joined Havies in 1977, he was called for national duty and made his debut against the visiting German Sports Club in a fifteen a side match. In 1978 played at the Hong Kong sevens and the Rugby Asiad under Mohan Balasuirya’s captaincy. When he was touring Hong Kong the Hong Kong Rugby picked a combined international side to play a friendly fifteen a side match against their National team. Michael was selected first and later Lanil Tennakoon came into the team after a Fijian player pulled out. He also took part in the 1979 Hong Kong sevens and in 1980 he was compelled to quit the squad due his job commitments.

As a player at Park Club, in 1981 there were two sevens tournaments held in January followed by the other in November. They registered two teams in both tournaments. The January sevens team was captained by Angelo Wickermaratne while Michael was given the nod to lead the Park Club A team in the second sevens tournament in November. The Havies A and B sides met in the finals in the November tournament, which was a rare occasion in history probably, which will be first and the last. Havelock’s B was captained by Marco de Silva.

He would like to extend his sincere gratitude to Gamini Fernando who was his coach in 1977/78/79 instrumental in moulding him and moved him from fly half to play in as a centre three quarter, whom he rates as an innovative coach.

In that era the National team was represented by two centres, Omar Sheriff and Hafi Abdeen, who were regular Havies centres. Gamini opted to move Omar Sheriff to wing and Hafi Abdeen to Fly half bringing in Michael and P. L. Munasinghe as centres. Three of his cousins Ronald Rodrigo, Roger Rodrigo and Leonard de Zilva donned the national jersey,

Due to his job commitments in the field of Marine Engineering he decided to play for his club when time permitted. In 1987 Havies won the sevens tournament and was picked for the National sevens team.

Unfortunately, he pulled his hamstring and was unable to take part in that tournament which was called the World International Sevens in Sydney, Australia led by Hisahm Abdeen. Michael hung up his boots in 1987 after engaging as a player for eleven years.

In 1996 he came back to the country for good and started his career with John Keells on an invitation extended by Jagath Fernando, another sports loving person. In 1996 he was appointed as a National selector under late Lional AlmeIda. While being there he was elected as the President of his own club Havelocks from 1999 to 2001. Since then he has served as a National selector on and off and was appointed as the vice-president of Sri Lanka Rugby to Priyantha Ekanayake. He was recalled to serve once again as national selector from 2011 to 2018 later turned out to occupy the Chairman Selectors post from 2016 to 2017. During his chairmanship as selector in 2016 the Asian sevens was won by Lankan juniors which was a unique achievement. The National Men’s team became the runner-up at the Asian sevens while the under-19 fifteen team became the runner up at Asiad.

Jason Jayasekere, his elder son, out of his four children played for Thomians. He joined the Junior national team in 1999 to tour Argentina to play in Junior Asiad fifteen a side championship, where they qualified for the Junior World Cup. Jason lives in Australia along with his other children.

At present he is the General Manager of Colombo City Centre located in the heart of the city of Colombo.