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CH&FC skipper Chanaka Fonseka

Colombo Hockey & Football Club (CH&FC) skipper Chanaka Fonseka is looking forward to win this week’s game against Police SC and put his team on the pedestal for future glories.

He acknowledges the fact that remaining at the bottom of the points table gives them headaches the next year because the bottom seed always opens the season with the top-seeded team. Chanaka wants to change this situation and for this he says the Gymkhana Club has promising youth players in abundance.

Chanaka has represented teams like Havelocks, Police and Petersons, but he believes the CH&FC is the place for opportunities. “If a player has to sit on the bench most of the time then he has to move to another club. Players need opportunities,” said the former Isipathana College player.

As a youth player he had heard so much about this club and he was amazed to experience firsthand that most of it is true. “This club has a long history in club rugby and does so much for players. The club gives us good benefits. We get to play rugby with good friends. It’s a really nice place,” he said in an interview with Weekend Nation.

He learned the rudiments of rugby at Isipathana College and has stuck to his pet position of wing three quarter. He takes his weight training sessions seriously and has gained solid muscle over the years. The guy weighs 95 kg compared to 75 kg before and said he can run faster now.

According to him the side is blessed with the presence and services of the Rajapaksa brothers, Yoshitha and Rohitha. Former Sri Lanka player Namal Rajapaksa is a member of the coaching team which also includes New Zealand national Tulagaese Tavita.

There are many as 35 hopefuls who are vying for places in the side. CH&FC is earnestly looking for that elusive win this season and the skipper believes it will come this weekend. “CH&FC needs a break. We need a start and for this a win is so essential. We’ve been struggling so far this season,” he admitted.

Chanaka said that all at CH&FC play as a unit. “There are no stars in the team. No stars means less problems,” laughed Chanaka.

He said he liked Sri Lanka Rugby’s (Governing body for rugby in Sri Lanka) decision taken to restrict the tournament to local players. “If foreigners were allowed, Kandy SC would have grabbed all the best ones and less strong teams would have been at a disadvantage. I prefer this system. There are better opportunities for the local players now,” he reasoned.

Chanaka likes the prestige associated with rugby players. He credits what he had built up as a rugby player when it came to finding employment at Ceylinco General Insurance Ltd. He has worked for this company as a Senior Insurance Executive for the past 12 years. “My employer has been very helpful to me and allowed me to pursue my rugby career,” he said.

Being in the insurance industry he said he sees huge importance in players being insured by their respective clubs. He said that the players need time and insurance benefits to recover and make a comeback when nursing an injury.

He said the league tournament is open now and very interesting. He associates this change in the domestic rugby scene to players spreading across evenly at clubs.
Chanaka said that referees play a crucial role in the outcome of games and said there should be less or no lapses on their part.

During the past two seasons, CH&FC finished right at the bottom, in eighth place. The CH&FC skipper said that he expected his team to finish among the top four teams after the second round of the inter-club league tournament. “This is my big dream for CH&FC,” he said. The Gymkhana Club has such a rich history behind them to motivate these players. These players have something to look up to and relive their past. Chanaka will play the lead role in their attempt to make a leap from being behind to get in front of some of the other teams. That jump by CH&FC this season is quite a possibility.

Chanaka Fonseka (extreme right) clad in the traditional red and white jersey
Chanaka Fonseka (extreme right) clad in the traditional red and white jersey