Sunday, May 06, 2007

Football at school level needed to revive Sri Lanka

The 1995 SAARC Gold Cup football tournament is "deeply etched" in the memory of Sri Lankan football followers as the first football trophy won by by their country. Sri Lanka met India in that final and won in extra time due to a goal by W.D. Sarath Wickremasinghe. A corporal in the national army, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant for his cup final efforts. A product of St. Paul’s College Kandy, Wickremasinghe played as centre forward in the Army, Golden Stars, Victory SC, Kandy District, Central Province and Sri Lanka teams. He was part of the national team from 1994 to 1998 and, from 1988, he has served as coordinator and coach of Central Province Soccer.

Wickremasinghe feels that football in Kandy is now in the doldrums. He noted to The Sunday Times that while the Kandy Football League finds the required funds, sadly they are not used. For football in Kandy to improve, he belives the game must be developed at school level. Coaches should be appointed. A, B and C division matches must be played, and clubs must receive some assistance. Bogambara is the only venue for practices. But the costs are prohibitive. It costs Rs. 575 per practice hour and Rs. 3,500 for the use of the ground and dressing rooms for a match. If the pavilion is used, a further sum of Rs. 5,000 has to be paid.

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