SAJITH supports the netballers | Daily News

SAJITH supports the netballers

In the local sports world many promising sportsmen and women who are of international class who could bring honour to the country by participating in international events are unable to do so lacking the all-important funds.

Other than for cricket that carries money bags with it and a lesser extent rugby are the only two sports that can fund their teams abroad. Other sports sadly lack funds and their talented sportspeople are left mid track.

When lack of funds are spoken about, the grand and generous gesture by the sports loving Deputy Leader of the United National Party and Housing and Construction and Cultural Affairs SAJITH PREMADASA must be commended and applauded.

PREMADASA realizing the plight and the sadness of the national netball team that was lacking funds to participate in an international tournament in Zambia in May has, in a god sent gesture, agreed to facilitate the funding needed of Rs. 42 million by inveigling sports lovers in the corporate sector to foot the bill. What a moving gesture!

SAJITH like his illustrious father the late President RANASINGHE PREMADASA is quick to appreciate a good deed and give it the recognition it deserves. Of late SAJITH has rewarded several sportsmen and women who have brought honour to the country by gifting them houses, which they were mostly in need of.

Recently SAJITH granted 12 houses to members of the Sri Lanka National Netball team that triumphed at the Asian Netball Championships in Singapore in 2018. Minister SAJITH is aware that sportsmen and women would be in a better state of mind mentally to perform better if they have an all-important house to live in. Many other sportsmen and women have benefited of his largesse.

SAJITH’S grand gesture is sure to motivate and inspire all other sportsmen and women to excel in international sports and bring honour to the country. The Minister is aware of the good sports could do to the participants and the country. And so his gesture to reward them.

SAJITH from the time he assumed the post of Minister Housing and Construction and Cultural Affairs has his goal and that is building houses so that the needy could live with peace of mind.

That the younger PREMADASA is following in the footsteps of his much loved and venerated father there is no doubt. President PREMADASA was a glutton for work and his first priority was to help the poorest of the poor.

His goal was to see that every citizen had a roof over his or her head. The ‘GAMUDAWA’ village reawakening was his brilliant concept and many were the beneficiaries.

While the son is following in his father’s footsteps, it will be good to recall and mention the many things the senior PREMADASA did for sports and the participants.

Having been a footballer playing for the ‘glamour boys’ of soccer Saunders SC the former President while attending to his many onerous duties when being Minister of Local Government, Prime Minister and then President of the country he never neglected sports.

President PREMADASA was a firm believer that sport is the great leveler and that winning or losing is not what mattered but how one played the game. He always played a straight bat and was loved especially by the down trodden and was the savior of the poorest of the poor.

On a personal note I must mention how the new Sugathadasa Stadium came into being. In my Sunday homily ‘SPORTSCOPE’ in the ‘SUNDAY TIMES’ of old every week I commented on the rack and ruin that the SS was heading for and called on the President and urged him to help restore the SS which was the only stadium the country had that was built by the first Minister of sport V.A. Sugathadasa who was also a sportsman of repute.

President PREMADASA visited the SS and after seeing for himself, immediately summoned a meeting of all Chairmen and MDs of all leading companies at the SS and before the meeting asked his Media Secretary Evans Cooray to ask me to meet him. The President thanked me for bringing to his notice the dilapidated state that the SS was in.

Incidentally Evans Cooray who was my senior at the ‘Times’ and ‘ Daily Mirror’ and who was helpful to me in my beginnings as a journalist remained friends after he became PREMADASA’S Media Secretary and PREMADASA would always send Cooray or phone me on matters when it came to publicity for sports after I became Sports Editor of the ‘DAILY NEWS’.

With the Chairmen and MDs present at that meeting, he explained to them and requested them for financial help to redo the SS. It did not take long for the Chairmen and MDs to contribute lavishly and nearly 20 to 25 million was collected which finally saw to the rebirth of the SS to international standard. There was no cost to the government.

The reconstruction of the SS with floodlights he entrusted to his able lieutenant Sirisena Cooray who did a splendid job and PREMADASA invited a foreign team to play the local team in a football match to mark the opening.

Speaking on the occasion before a sardine packed stadium and speaking in all three languages he made mention that it was the newspaper I worked in that gave him the idea and the impetus to rebuild the SS and expressed his thanks.

Taking the cue from there PREMADASA built a pavilion for his school St. Joseph’s and built the Indoor Stadium which the authorities did well to name it in his honour.

Then with night cricket introduced by Kerry Packer being the in-thing, he set in motion the building of the first floodlit R.PREMADASA INTERNATIONAL CRICKET STADIUM and with it we had a stadium for night cricket for which all cricketers and administrators should be grateful for his vision.

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