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Dulaj Perera has shown ample skill to entertain audiences with his skills in music | (Pics by Mushtaq Thasleem)

God given gifts are few. Often it’s just one where most talented people are concerned. But with rugby player Dulaj Perera, he sees himself juggling both a career in sport and the ability to entertain guests as a musician. This writer uses the word juggling because Dulaj can’t make up his mind whether to channel all his resources to rugby or his passion for music. “It’s a choice I don’t want to make right now,” says the 24-year-old player who represents Havelocks Sports Club in the domestic rugby tournaments.

We’ve seen a lot of potential in Dulaj to entertain crowds whether in the rugby field or while performing in front of a music-loving audience. Where have we seen the best of him? “I think right now the best of me has been witnessed in the rugby scene because I have gone on to represent Sri Lanka. There is nothing greater than getting to represent Sri Lanka at this stage of my life,” he said in an interview with Weekend Nation.

Dulaj is a jovial guy. There is definitely a soft side to him. Perhaps, it’s this side of the young man that creates the room for him to be creative and artistic. I try to find some complex formula in the guy which will relate to the music he plays. He surprises me. “I play by ear and learn by myself,” he says keeping this chat about music very simple.
But hold your horses! Don’t underrate this band. It is rated among the top bands in the commercial scene. He plays for a group by the name Magic Box Mix-up which comprises other members like Shawn, Shamin, Justice, Guyrika, Gayan and Robert. His group undertakes to play at weddings and events. There is a regular playing slot for his band at Water’s Edge. They play on Friday. Dulaj says that he makes a lot more money from playing for his band than the money he earns by playing rugby. “I can’t play rugby forever. However, there is potential for me to carry on with my music even during old age,” he reflects.

Dulaj the rugby player-following his passion to play with the oval-shaped ball | (Pics by  Eshan Dassanayaka)
Dulaj the rugby player-following his passion to play with the oval-shaped ball | (Pics by Eshan Dassanayaka)

His Christian background had a huge influence on him taking to music. By the time he was in Grade Three he was playing the guitar. He was soon picked to sing in the choir and was a member of the Sunday worship team. Even to date, he makes it a point to go to church on Sundays and sing. This is his way of saying thank you to the Lord. He says that singing is a god-given gift to him. He took this opportunity to mention his father’s, Richard Perera, influence on him in his music career.

Rugby seasons are hard. Often there is morning and evening training. He does his music sessions in the night. Strangely, he says that he doesn’t see his energy levels zap despite life demanding; he plays so many roles. But he says that he is consciously aware that the human body can only take in a certain workload. Just for the record, Dulaj prefers to sleep during the day and play rugby and music in the evenings.

He finds playing music in the evenings very relaxing, especially after a hard workout on the rugby field. There are so many rugby players who we see listening to music before a game. Dulaj too does it. But when on the rugby field, Dulaj switches from a musician engaged in vibes and acquires the mindset of a warrior. “I may laugh and joke with my friends in the dressing room before a game, but I make the switch to rugby the moment I step on the rugby field. I give 100% on the rugby field,” he says adding, “I am not the person who thinks about the match scheduled in the evening from the moment I get up in the morning. If you do this you are inviting unwanted pressure”.

He plays oldies and modern songs when performing at functions. In most places he plays at, the audience is aware that it’s ‘that rugby player’ singing and playing the guitar on stage.

He is a regular with the national seven and 15-a-side rugby teams. His committed efforts in rugby made him the highest point scorer at the domestic league tournament in the years 2014 and 2015.

Where life is concerned, Dulaj is on a song! “Up to now, there has never been a dull moment,” he says.