Sri Lanka is a nation which has often showcased the fact that its people are united when it comes to sport. Cricket tops the list among all disciplines whenever the time comes for these islanders to stand up and cheer their national sportsmen and women. Given that this is a multi-ethnic society, it’s heartening to see that no spectator needs to be given lessons on patriotism. We love sports, this nation and the lion flag, which underscore the fact-united we stand and divided we fall!
At the time of writing several of our rugby players chosen to represent the nation at an Asian junior rugby tournament were firm about where their future lies. They had shown through their actions and thinking that club loyalty takes top precedence over national duty.
Having said all this, it’s a little disheartening to see that there are occasions when sportsmen choose to be selfish. For some there seems to be little difficulty in breaking away from a society and also conveniently burying the herd instinct. At the time of writing several of our rugby players chosen to represent the nation at an Asian junior rugby tournament were firm about where their future lies. They had shown through their actions and thinking that club loyalty takes top precedence over national duty.
Some of these players have taken advances from their clubs and had problems committing themselves to national duty. This is because the clubs, at that time, were not releasing them for national duty. The players were even finding it hard to attend national pool practice because their present employer, the clubs, were not willing to take any chances by exposing them to injury. We all know as a fact that the Asian Rugby Championships is no walk in the park and demands both the players’ physical energies and attention. Unfortunately the call for national duty doesn’t bring forth a desire in players to stand up and be counted.
This scenario has been present a couple of times in the sport of cricket too. There have been occasions when several players were not available for national duty because of their commitments with the IPL. Boxer Nilantha Bandara Walisundara, a national champion, vanished to England to fulfil his dreams of earning a professional boxing licence. This means that he made a conscious decision that after becoming a professional boxer there is no opportunity again to represent his nation in amateur competitions like the Asian Championships, Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
But we also see the likes of racer Dilantha Malagamuwa who makes it a point to show in no uncertain terms that he represents Sri Lanka when competing abroad. Dilantha’s story is an amazing one where a search for a deep meaning in motor racing made him end up in Malaysia, a country where amazing wonders in the subject of motor mechanism takes place.
There have been occasions when sisters Machiko and Kimiko Raheem made themselves available for selection trials in the sport of swimming. High jumper Manjula Kumara, while following studies for a Bachelors Degree in Economics in USA, made himself available for national duty whenever the call was made. These are some of the inspirational stories that will help remind everybody that patriotism should never be hidden behind a dark curtain when sportsmen and women are struggling against the odds.