Change in tide excites sports fans in Kandy | Sunday Observer

Change in tide excites sports fans in Kandy

Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa during his playing days that only rugby fans knew. Today every sport wants a piece of him
Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa during his playing days that only rugby fans knew. Today every sport wants a piece of him

The sporting fraternity in Kandy is excited that the new Minister for Sports Namal Rajapaksa is sure to deliver on his Vision and play his part to make the region an active sporting city known for its sporting success.

Past successful sportsmen and sportswomen can be proud of their achievements that were possible due to their keenness and the backing they got from parents, clubs, schools and coaches.

Records reveal that Kandy produced some of the best sportsmen and women in rugby, cricket, hockey, football, athletics, table tennis, iron sports, netball, volleyball, tennis, boxing, badminton, cue sports billiards and snooker, cycling and swimming.

Thanks to the old boys and parents, sport at school level is being kept alive, but what Kandy requires now more than ever is the backing from Sports Minister Rajapaksa who was a top sportsman himself, a Sri Lanka rugby captain and forward, to uplift sports at club level.

Today like club rugby, hockey and cricket are also back in the scene and with the support of Minister Rajapaksa the expectations are running high like never before.

Kandy could do better with another well-equipped ground. Sport is so popular in Kandy that today there is a necessity for additional grounds, especially for sports like school cricket, rugby, football and hockey.

Thanks to the Municipal Council for leasing a plot of land in the 1940s to Kandy Sports Club that they were able to turn it into a rugby ground at Nittawela.

The Bogambara Stadium which helped most of the sports when it was under the Municipal Council is now under the Sports Ministry and at present is closed due to repairs.

Today several schools especially at rugby and cricket are finding it difficult to play their matches due to lack of a ground and the ground charges are sky high.

Schools and clubs heavily depended on the Bogambara ground for their sports almost every day. Until 1998 for a period of 100 years the Kandy Municipal Council were the owners. In 1998 the government took it over for re-development and had plans to have the Independence Day celebrations at the stadium with a promise to return it. But they failed to do so and sportsmen are suffering today especially football, rugby and hockey players besides athletes.

The Asgiriya Stadium is owned by Trinity College for cricket and the Antonian ground at Katugastota is used for their school cricket matches and sports training. They also help the Old Antonians SC in their cricket.

The Lake View ground is owned by Dharmaraja College where they play their cricket matches while Kingswood College converted their pint-size ground at Randles Hill to a big one. But still matches are not played. Vidyartha College owns a plot of land at Nittawela where they play junior matches and also train. In the early days they suffered a lot without a proper place.

St.Sylvester’s College has a miniature ground at Asgiriya without grass but practice and play matches elsewhere while Wariyapola Sri Sumangala (St. Paul’s College) has no ground but are determined to excel in sports.

The University of Peradeniya has separate grounds for hockey, athletics, cricket, rugby, football and tennis. At one time the Peradeniya turf wicket was classed among the best in the country.

In the early days they helped most of the schools and clubs to play cricket and if not for their help today, hockey would have been a forgotten sport. The Police ground at one time was hired for all sports, but now first preference is given to cricket. It is a matting wicket and a little bit of hockey is played. Earlier except for the Trinity versus St. Anthony’s big match, all other cricket big matches were played on this ground.

Following the lack of suitable grounds, the standards of these sports at club level have their limitation. Kandy has cricket clubs with products from nine cricket playing schools. The clubs are finding it difficult to practice and play matches. There are many clubs playing in the Division III but the same story lies with them too although they get the support of Asgiriya, Katugastota, Police ground and Peradeniya to play matches.

A few years back the Kandy Hockey Association were to get funds from their controlling body to put up an Astro turf but there was no proper place in Kandy. They are trying to lay the turf at Pallekelle, but it is too far for school children who do all their practices at their school compounds and even win championships despite the hardships.

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