Zahirians - experiencing the rough and tumble
By Bernie Wijesekera
Its time that the Sri Lanka Rugby Union looked into the priorities
for the development of the sport in the country. The game has spread
far and wide. It is no longer, a sport meant for the affluent clubs
unlike in the past, to wine and dine after a game, with a social.
time has come for the controlling body to take note the way the
rugby assets are handled, in the interest of the sport. Then the
game could progress to reach higher levels in the Asian circuit.
Many rural schools have taken to the scrum, far and wide. But where
are the basic facilities for the development and promotion of the
sport. There should be more clubs for them to indulge after leaving
common playing field for them to scrum down. In Indian and Pakistan
it's a common sight the youth wielding the willow in open fields
meant for all as they are the future prospects. Sri Lanka is one
of the oldest countries in Asia playing rugby since colonial times.
But have we progressed. No, but virtually in the lower rungs in
the Asian table. IRB with a regular donation to promote the game
at grassroots level, and creating more clubs for mass participation.
there is development then its in the Services at grassroots level.
Teaching the rural youth the skills and paving them the way to reach
national standards. In the end they are the ones, who play hard
with total commitment with a never-say-die approach to keep the
country's rugby image alive.
trek to the Shalika grounds on Wednesday (April 27) to watch the
Old Zahirians SC training in virtual darkness, with the assistance
of the Apollo Hospital lights which were coming from a distance
spelled out the special story. The club is just five years old.
Despite limited resources they are striving to keep the sport alive
among the youth. The players are drawn from Bandaranayake MV Gampaha,
St. Mary's Chilaw, Ananda College Colombo, St. Benedict's, Isipatana
and Zahira Maradana, etc.
team is being coached by former Sri Lanka forward Hisham Abdeen.
A player of international class, who possess rugby skills and competent
enough even to train the national squad.
was interviewed by The Sunday Times. He said "our main task,
is to find a place to train. We go from pillar to post. I think
there should be a common playground for emerging clubs to train
and afford rural schoolboys to continue". "Today the club
is not confined to old boys of the Maradana school. The gates are
open to all".
asked about the funds to support Abdeen said "Any sponsors.
Today all sports need professional support. Our assets are limited.
We have no sponsors coming to our aid unlike the affluent clubs.
But still we are on surface, thanks to the well-wishers and ardent
supporters of rugby. They are assisting the club with men and material.
The Rugby Union must assist the emerging clubs. This should be their
team is our most important asset. They must be reasonably well looked
after. Despite limited sources we are looking after them. After
all the hard work, but still some players desert for reasons best
known to them. Apparently affluent clubs hook them. It’s not
present Rugby Union's young president Priyantha Ekanayake has played
with me. He has gone through the dark tunnel. He has a vision. He
will strive to help the emerging clubs. This should be part of rugby
is not everything. OZSC, were trounced by Kandy SC, in the opener.
But the only thing is to play the game in the correct spirit and
keep the game alive for a better tomorrow. With some help and support
OZSC could make it more competitive, than confining to a few clubs".
have a squad of 30. Average age is 24. The team is led by old Benedictine
prop forward Mohan Fernando. He has the zeal and is determined to
turn a new chapter in the ongoing season. Here is a player with
immense potential in flanker Dinesh Sanjeewa from Bandaranayake
MV. He later joined Ananda College. He is in the national pool.
Kishore Jehan from Chilaw. He never played rugby. But found his
way to the national pool.
other player to note is T.M. Saldin, the- fly-half. There are many
more schoolboys from the districts, but they need exposure.
Props - K. Jehan, Omesh Ifhan, Chathuranga, Hookers -
M. Irshad, Bakeer, Locks - Rajeewa Kamil, Third Row - Sanjeewa Dinesh
Lakmal, Kapura Bandara (Isipatana), Dhammika Wimalaratne, No. 8
- Naim Ali, Scrum Halves - Kuncheer (place -kicker), Shammy, Fly
half - Saldin, Centers - Mannan, Mindika Jayasinghe Roshan, Wing
- three quarters - Shakeer Ishan, Mohideen, Fullback - Zubaideen.