Sunanda Jayasekara - a sporting legend and a gentleman | Daily News

Sunanda Jayasekara - a sporting legend and a gentleman

To Sunanda Jayasekara, sports was not just a game - it was a passion and a passionate pastime in his life. As a financier he still cherishes the lessons he learnt as an outstanding sportsman for his alma mater St. Peter's College Bambalapitiya from 1973-77. Perhaps, sports would have been the reason for his gaining an employment opportunity in Canada.

Talking exclusively to the ‘Daily News’ all the way from Canada even though it is a 10.and half hours time difference , , he recalled how an illustrious sports career could help build one’s character. “I believe in teamwork. This is one major lesson that sports has taught me throughout the years” said Jayasekara.

“Sports helped me to imbibe qualities such as leadership, sharing work, character building, delegating work, determination and having faith in my teammates,” he said. Like in many others, school time was the best era of Jayasekara’s life. “I owe everything to my school St.Peter’s; actually it is not just a school, but an institution where students’ characters were nurtured with dignity and honesty.”

“My best moment in school cricket was when in 1975 in the inaugural Joe-Pete 50 over encounter (which is the first limited over game to be played among Sri Lankan schools, innovated by my beloved cricket coach legendary Mike Chanmugam (A highly respected St.Peters old boy) and the administrators of both schools, where I took the wicket of Josephian batting maestro left hander Rohan Wijesinghe Snr., with a rising outswinger caught by S.C. Rohan Fernando at first slip with the very first delivery of the match; finally claiming 2 for 12 and we went on to win the inaugural 50 over match against the star studded St. Joseph College side captained by Dushan Soza. I still cherish that moment of claiming Rohan’s wicket with my first ball and it will be in my mind for ever” said Sunanda. This first ball achievement is a record that no other schoolboy has done in the past or will achieve; the record will stand forever as it was the inaugural 50 over match to be played amongst schools.

Recalling his memory he said “In fact I had the luxury of claiming Wijesinghe’s wicket two more times in different Joe-Pete encounters, so all together I got his wicket three times in four outings.

Going down memory lane Jayasekara spoke highly of his cricket coach Mike Chanmugam, rugby coach Archibald Perera and his basketball coach Mahadevan.

Sunanda Jayasekara had the unique feat of representing champion St.Peter's College basketball team in 1973, coached by great Murali Mahadevan. He represented the CH and FC ‘A’ Division side for the first time in 1977 as a second row forward while still a schoolboy and earned a reputation as a much sought-after ruggerite.

He said “I played for CH and FC from 1977-1981. In 1982 CH was really grateful enough to offer the captaincy to me, because I was the senior, but I did not take it as I was nursing an injury on my knee. So the captaincy went to prop forward N.H.Karunasena. I was working in Ratnapura during the Sri Lanka club Rugby season in 1978, and to continue with my rugby, I had to travel daily from Ratnapura to Maitland Crescent for two months for practices”, a pure dedication by this tough sportsman.

Going down memory lane Sunanda - who was affectionately called “Sunna” by his friends said” In same year I fractured my nasal bone playing rugby I was with the face mask on, it was taken off in order for me to play the CH vs. CR match even before it was completely healed. A challenge he has taken for the love of the game, even risking his wedding as he was to get married after three days of the match. This incident really goes to show the mental and physical toughness of this fantastic sportsman.

He further went on to say “In 1987 I made a comeback and played till 1988, but decided to hang my boots in 1988 when I sustained a knee injury during the season. I later moved to Canada and have been living there since then, with my wife and daughter.”

He also represented Colts SC and Moratuwa SC in Division 1 Sara Trophy as a fast bowler and lower order batsman. Incidentally Sunanda and Dennis Chanmugam are the first two players to represent a Division one Sara Trophy club cricket team as well as ‘A’ Division club rugby team in the Clifford Cup tournament.

Sunanda was turning out for the star studded Moratuwa SC, since leaving Colts CC in 1978 and took a career best 12 wickets in the match against Colombo university (a team full of quality players) in 1978.

In conclusion Jayasekara spoke highly about his father Victor Jayasekara and said, “My father has been my major inspiration in life, and I am eternally grateful to him because he stood like a rock behind me” and I also wanted to thank my coaches Mike Chanmugam (Cricket), Archibald Perera (Rugby) and Mahadevan (Basketball) and I’m always eternally grateful to them as well. “In order for Sri Lankan rugby to improve and reach higher standards, I believe we should leave politics out of the game, and that goes for schools, clubs and national rugby” concluded Jayasekara.