Kandy soccer yearning to regain past glory | Daily News

Kandy soccer yearning to regain past glory

Kandy’s successful sportsmen and sportswomen can be proud of their achievements. This was possible due to their keenness, the backing they got from parents, schools, clubs and coaches. Records reveal that Kandy has produced some of the best sportsmen and women in Football, Cricket, Hockey Rugger, Athletics, Table Tennis, Iron Sports, Netball, Volleyball, Lawn Tennis, Boxing, Badminton, Cue Sports (Billiards and Snooker), Cycling, Swimming, chess, carom etc.

At one time Kandy was a powerhouse of Sri Lanka club football. But today it is in a forgotten state. When will the game of football that one time held its domain and produced footballers of international class regain its former glory in the historic city of Kandy?. Sports have been widely used to connecting people, build cohesive communities, enhance tolerance and change the way people think and act.

Today no one seems to care for football in the hill capital which has a history of nearly 100 years. The game is sadly neglected. For many years, tournaments and AGM’s were not being held on time in an organised manner. This has been a great setback for the sport. It is reliably understood last year’s finals was played only this year. The FFSL is not showing any interest in Kandy football. It is time for them to wake up from their deep slumber and start move the game of football in Kandy towards the right direction. Kandy Football League is a founder member of the National controlling body. At one time this league conducted over 150 matches a year.

Football was introduced to Kandy in the mid 1920’s. During the Second World War, British units were stationed in Kandy, with the onetime Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces in the South East Asia, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten having his headquarters in the hill capital.

Later on Kandy Amateur Football League was formed. It subsequently changed its name to Kandy District Football Association. It served football in Matale, Gampola, Nawalapitiya, Kurunegala and Kegalle, as the years passed by these towns formed their own associations. Today they can survive on their own . When Football in Colombo and else where experienced a setback as far as Ceylonese exponents of the game were concerned, the game was more or less confined to the permanent population and to the Servicemen. Early in 1942, however, there appeared to be a lack of interest in the game, and the efforts made by S.C.Traill the then secretary to call a meeting of the League was failed and he was compelled to return the trophies to the donors. At that time the game seemed to be seriously affected.

But fortunately G.H. Robins, T.P.C. Roberts who were then stationed in Kandy along with M.S. Jainudeen were mainly responsible in resuscitating the game. A tournament for the main shield was inaugurated with the participation of the Services Footballers in Kandy and football began to thrive again. At that time Bogambara was the location of high activity.

At one time Kandy had one of the biggest leagues with over 40 teams. The present day generation should be aware of the Kandy football history. Today football is not much heard of in Kandy. Football has apparently hit rock bottom. Kandy won the All-Island senior and junior League championship for the first time under the presidency of B.M Bodi Liyanage and H. Marikar in 1990’s. With these wins Kandy was offered a tour to Nepal for a tournament, for which teams from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal took part and Kandy was placed second. It was the first ever Kandy team to tour overseas. Today in FFSL competitions no team from Kandy participate. Holding position in office for prestige sake is not what is required today. Officials must come forward and serve the game of football to prosper.

If football in Kandy is to improve the controlling body must put the leagues on the correct path. It was a product of Kandy, Tom Ossen an old boy of Dharmaraja College, who led the Sri Lanka football team then known as Ceylon in the first ever tour of the Far East in 1958. During that period, Tom Ossen was attached to the Kandy Municipal Council as a playground Instructor and represented Young Stars Sports Club and Kandy. Later he became the coach of the Peradeniya University team, Kandy Association Football League. He has also served as a top grade FIFA referee.