St. Sylvester’s, cradle of Hill Capital sportsmen | Daily News

St. Sylvester’s, cradle of Hill Capital sportsmen

Old Sylvestrian sport stars gathered to celebrate 80th anniversary of the St. Sylvester’s College, Kandy. This school was founded on November 1, 1940 by Rev. Fr. D. Robert Perera O.S.B.. He was also the founder principal. They are housed at the former premises of St. Anthony’s College. This is a school that has produced some of the top class sportsmen. The motto of the school is ‘Success through dedication’. Later during the Primership of late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike the school was taken over by the Government. A big hand should go to former principal late D.J.N. Senavirthne who did yeoman service followed by K.S.Gunaratne, W.B.Goppallawa, late Bertie Nillagoda, Asoka B.Hearth, T.R. Meetiyagoda, the present principal P.G.S. Bandara and also not to forget one time vice principal old Royalist Roy Amarasinghe.

This school remains as the only school in the country if not in the world to have produced a sportsman who was selected to represent two different countries at two different Olympic games. That is none other than boxer Malcolm Bulner.He represented Ceylon at the Olympic Games in Tokyo and was later selected to represent Australia at the following Olympic Games. But he was deprived of achieving this rare feat owing to technical reasons. Malcolm has qualified as a world class boxing Judge. He also boxed for the country at the Empire Games in Perth and the Asian Games in Bangkok. The first Sylvestrian to win a national boxing title was Donald G. Labrooy who won the Bantham Weight title in early 1950’s.

He was followed by Malcolm Marshal, Milroy de Soysa, Anslem de Soysa, M.E. Marikar. St. Sylvester’s was in the forefront of schools boxing winning the coveted Stubbs Shield several times. Within fourteen years they won on 12 times. Nimal Lewke did well in boxing. The others who come to mind in boxing are Donald La Brooy, Lolyd Hope, A.C.R. Hearthge, M. Reyal, S.A.Azwer, P. Edmund, J. Peterson, D.C.Weerasinghe, Jansz brothers Bernanrd - Keanth and Milroy, T.S. Hassan, Derick Gunasinghe, N.Thirukumar, Bandula Gamage and K.C. Sisira Kumara to name a few.

St. Sylvester’s continues to produce boxers, cricketers, footballers, hockey players, athletes, ruggerites with limited facilities. It is said that during the early years after the second World War, St. Sylvester’s was entitled to use the Police Barracks. The pint sized ground was expanded with the help of Sylvestrian students and also the principal of Trinity College who permitted Sylvestrians to use the Asgiriya Grounds. St. Sylvester’s has produced a champion athlete Felix Samarawickrema who broke a public schools record and was later crossed over to St. Joseph's College. He lowered the Public Schools 440 yards record with a timing of 51.8 seconds in 1948. At the same meet he won the 100 yards sprint with a timing of 10.6 seconds. Felix Samarawickrema was chosen to represent the country at the Empire Games in 1949 along with Trinity College’s Duncan White. But he had to pull out due to a muscle injury and Vivian Blaze took his place. Other top athletes to come out of this school, in the 1950’s were Cyril Ranatunge, P. Thagavelu, Ananda Daswatte, G.S.Fernando, M.E.Marikar, S.Wickremasuriya, Leslie and Malcom Marshal. Later there were several others like L S.B Cabral, Rodney David, W.R.P. Dias, S.B.Pattapola and Eric B. Perera.

This school has produced footballers who played for the country and some for Kandy, Up-Country and work places. Among them the best was Mahinda Aluwihare, the first Sylvestrian to lead the Country. The others who shone in the early days were N.E.Perera, I.M.Saheed, Edmun Samarawera, A.H.M.Jabar, Jaya Aluwihare, R.P.Wijasiri, Tony Dircekz, Percy Samaraweera, Rukman and Rajendra de Silva, Laklshman de Silva led in 1950, M. Jauffer in 1951, M.E.Marikar in 1952, M. Marshal in 1953, Donald G. Labrooy, Abdul Razak, Gerad David, I.M. Anver, Hector Galuge, M. Ayub,S, Alfred, M. Fuard, M. Razeek, Ratnapala Aluwihare, Luck Kulatunge, Rodney David and Kingsley David.

Cricket was introduced to the school in 1955. The first school team was coached by J. Denlow and Ronny Stephen and the side was led by T. Direckze. M.E. Marikar became the first Sylvestrian to play representative cricket. He was followed by Abdul Razak. Nihal Samarasekara was the first to play for Ceylon before Sri Lanka gained Test status. Ishak Shabdeen was the first to play for the country after gaining Test status. Later the school has produced galaxy of cricketers. The man who reached the top in coaching is Malcolm Perera who hit the highest spot in coaching, though he did not play for the country. He rose to be Sri Lanka Cricket Coaching Director and later Manager. He had the privilege of leading Kandy CC, Kandy and Central Province at cricket. Some of other cricketers who gave their best are David brothers Gerard, Kingsley, Sydney and Rodney, N. Herathge, Jayatilake brothers — Ranjith and Bandu, Gerry Alexander Hidalarachchi, Mervyn Rodrigo the first to win the ‘best outstation schoolboy’ award, Iqbal Haniffa, Lionel Perera, Mervyn Berenger, Nimal Rajakaruna, T.E Badudeen, Lionel Perera, Sarath Basnayake, Denlow brothers Michael and Jimmy, Nimal Rajakaruna , Nimal Leweke, Jayanath Colombage, M. Thirimane, Lalith and Ajith Boyagoda brothers, Colomabage brothers Edward and Rangith, Sena Wijesinghe, Hilmy, Foumy and Faleel Marikar brothers, Mervin Perera, Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, Tudor Guanarthne, Perera brothers Roland and Anton Perera, Janaka Pathirane, Anslem Nanayakra, Duncan Vandort, Mahinda Senavirthne, S.I. Premachnadra, Anura Hlangoda, J.G. Thialkasiri, Julian Arnolda, Duncan Arnolda, A.S. Dange, C. Athuda, Kenneth Udawatte, Canaka Colombage to name a few.

Hockey was one of the oldest sports at this schools. To name some of the top hockey players – C.K.R.Thiyagaraja, V. Vijasundaranm, L. Marshal, Malcolm Marshal, Lesley Marshal, M.E.Marikar, T.D.S.Perera, T.Murigesh, Lakshman Kultunge, C.Paramasivam, M.A.M.Saheed, Nihal Samarasekara. M. Ayub, Malcolm Perera, M. Ayub, Badrudeen brotehrs TE and TF, I. M. Anwer, A.G.T. Soloman, S.Sundaranayagam, Colombage brothers Edward and Rangith, David brothers, Rodney, Kinsley and Gerard, Anton Perera played for the country as a schoolboy, Mohan Thanhavelu, Baba Hassan, Darshana Wijesinghe, D.G.Tilkarathne, R. Maheswarn, M. Ashroff.

They first played rugger in 1954, the third school in Kandy to take up rugby, under the leadership of Malcolm Marshal and after two years they had to give up due to lack of facilities. Some of the Sylvestrians who played club rugby without playing for the school are Malcolm Marshal, Cyril Aluwihare, Hector Galuge, Sarath Basnayake, Gerad David, Tony Direckez and Nimal Lewke (Captained the Poilice team and president of the Sri Lanka Rugby, Referees). Lewke was the second Sri Lankan to become the President of the Asia Rugby Football Federation and received the highest award for a sportsmen in 2019 - the Presidential Award - Kreeda Buhshana. Sylvestrians Wasantha Basnayake, Hafiz Marikar, M. Jamilon, Vasantha Ratnayake, Anton Fernando and Manjula Pathirane (first to play for Combined School), Lasitha Attanagoda and Danuka Wijetilake excelled in rugby.At present Sylvestrians are doing well in chess, Table Tennis, Gymnastics, Carom, badminton, Karate, volleyball etc.

Today this school is blessed with a ground, which they got mainly due to efforts of old boys like late Chief Minister W.M.P. Dissanayake, Parliamentarian Gamini Rajapakse and Hafiz Marikar. The last named became the first Sylvestrian to manage a national team in sports and also was the liaison officer for all overseas cricket teams and first secretary of the Sri Lanka Football from Kandy.

Then the Sylverstrian Sports Club was inaugurated by people like Hafiz Marikar (Organizing Committee Chairman), Malcolm Perera (Convenor), Janka Pathirane (Treeasurer), and the committee was formed with people like B. J. de Selfa, Rangith Colombage, Asela Wanasinghe, Roland Perera, S A Wijesinge, Felix Arnold and A.N. M. Amrakoon. The past sporting fraternity of the school has organized several sporting events in connection with the 80th birthday, but Corona virus halted all those activities.