By Ravi Nagahawatte
Members of the National Sports Council (NSC) are experiencing an anxious wait as to what their future would be despite having given so much hope and promise to uplift sport in the island through the service they have rendered.
NSC has requested for a meeting with the present Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, but according to Senior Retired DIG Nimal Lewke the council is yet to receive an appointment with the sports minister.
Lewke said that the biggest achievement of the NSV was obtaining sports ministry approval for the guidelines they suggested when appointing a national selector. “We proposed that whoever is earmarked for this job must be either a national player or a national champion and most importantly must not be involved in the sale of sports goods. We also specified that those involved in active politics must not be considered for the role of a national selector and the former Sports Minister Navin Dissanayake approved this,” said Lewke.
According to Lewke, NSC had made several other suggestions in streamlining the sports ministry where national teams are concerned. He said that the council saw the need to offer scholarships to promising sportsmen and women because certain sports bodies are cash-strapped. “Recommendations regarding such sportsmen and women must be made to the NSC through the respective sports bodies. We have also proposed a scheme where retired sports personalities-who are struggling to meet everyday expenses-will be given a monthly allowance by the sports ministry,” explained Lewke.
He came down hard on individuals and officials who don’t take overseas assignments with the national team seriously. “People must realize that they are representing Sri Lanka and must start training at least one month prior to the event. Right now we can see that certain people are only interested in the tour and this attitude must change,” he affirmed.
Lewke underscored the importance of what level the sports ministry should support sport. He added that there were certain disciplines in Sri Lanka which were nowhere near meeting the standards of international sports. “We must see whether the support should be given at International, national or at district level,” he said.
The NSC is also looking to change the perspective that personal coaches must accompany their chargers during foreign tours. According to Lewke, the way out of this is to hire a head coach and his preferences for this role to be filled are either from USA, Ukraine or Jamaica.
He is amazed that there are talented youngsters who can produce a timing of 10.5 or 10.6 seconds in the short distance sprint event. He said that these youngsters must either be helped to reach the next level or make a shift to long jump, a discipline he said requires fast running athletes.
Lewke is a former national boxer, a past national rugby coach and a personality who headed the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union. Some of the other members who have served the NSC since January this year are Susanthika Jayasinghe, Sunil Gunawardene, Ruwanchandra, Prof. Arjuna De Silva, D. Abeyratne and Selvakumaran. He said that all these individuals, including himself, had done yeoman service to the country in different capacities. “We would be very disappointed if we are replaced without being informed,” said Lewke.