Shamlie Nawaz ruggerite and coach par excellence | Daily News

Shamlie Nawaz ruggerite and coach par excellence

Shamlie Nawaz
Shamlie Nawaz

The game of rugby in Sri Lanka has a proud history of over a century. Even though it could not reach the top in Asia and in the World Rugby arena it, has produced several quality players who played for the love and passion of the game keeping the National flag flying at International level. Shamlie Afraz Nawaz was one of them who had a prolific educational and rugby background making his school and country proud.

Shamlie comes from a humble family and his mother is Harthini Sourjah . She was a retired teacher cum Attorney at law. His father M.I.M. Nawaz was a Physical Training Instructor in the Government Schools. He has two sisters Siyangka and Sukerhan. His sports family background influenced him to take to rugby at his school Isipathana. He was admitted to Isipathana for his primary education and completed his schooling career with them. While he was continuing his primary education, he used to play tap rugby during the interval and after school using mango seed or a plastic bottle instead of a rugby ball, which was very popular among kids in that era. The game of rugby was the centre of attraction in his ‘Alma Mater’ and some of his class mates encouraged him to take up the oval shaped ball game seriously. He then embarked to play school rugby and started practices at junior grade level with late Sajith Mallikarachchi. His first launch at School Rugby was at the age of 11 years and after a few weeks of training he had to skip practices due to a wrist injury.

This was the beginning of his rugby career which finally ended up by playing at school. His first appearance in rugby tournament was in 1992 with the under-12 team where he started to play as a fly half and turned out to be the highest scorer in that tournament at the under-13 ‘Milo Trophy’ which they played under Gayan Dulshara’s captaincy. He surged ahead in winning the same tournament in the under-15 age category under the captaincy of Amith Jayaweera. It is noteworthy that Sanath Asanjaya and Hyacinth Kumara were the coaches in the respective years.

His long standing dream of representing first XV became a reality in 1994 under captain Lilekha Fernando when he played in the first XV and won the All Island League and next year (1995) became runners up losing to St.Peters College 3-6 in the Milo Trophy Inaugural Knockout Tournament captained by Ali Wahid. In 1996 played under the captaincy of Bandula Mallikarachchi coached by Leslie de Silva and Kelum Gunaratne. They won the Knockout Milo Trophy by beating the Thomians 30-15 while winning the League tournament by overcoming the Thomians 22-12 as well. Same year he was selected by the Sri Lanka Rugby to lead the Sri Lanka Junior National Team to Hong Kong coached by S.W. Chang. In 1997, under the captaincy of Vajira Hewage they won the Triple Crown of the school’s tournament coached by Kelum Gunaratne. In1997, once again for the second time he was selected to captain the Junior National Team to take part in the Asian Schools Rugby Tournament in Taiwan coached by S.W. Chang. In 1998, he was appointed captain of Isipathana College Rugby under Kelum Gunaratne as Head Coach. Under his captaincy they beat St. Peters with the highest score of 55/0 and this is a record between these two schools upto now. He toured Singapore and won the Singapore ‘Anchor Black’ 10 a Side Tournament. His club career started with Havelock Sports Club in 1998 and played under the captaincy of Thushara Jayalath ably coached by Ana Saranapala. Next year he crossed over to join CR and FC under the leadership of Champika Nishantha coached by Laga (Tavita Thulagaesi) continued to lock horns for them playing a dual role by occupying the positions of number eight and flanker until 2007 leading the Longden Place club in 2003.

His illustrious rugby career had a great turn as he was called for National duty with the Sri Lanka National Team in 1998 where he was a member of the Rugby Asiad team in Singapore under the leadership of Viraj Prashantha coached by Ana Saranapala. He continued to play in the National Sevens in 1999 in Hong Kong followed by the Shanghai Sevens and Carlton International Sevens. He represented Sri Lanka at the Asian Qualifiers and the Rugby Asiad in 2000 and was a live wire in the National XV-a-side teams until 2003. He has the rare distinction of being the

only ‘Schoolboy Junior Youth Player to captain the Sri Lanka Junior Team in 1996 and 1997.

After hanging up his boots as a player he took up coaching from 1999 to 2002 and went on to coach Isipathana junior teams . Subsequently he got in to rugby coaching from 2008 at Isipathana College along with Bandula Mallikarachchi. In 2014 he played a pivotal role revamping Zahira Rugby and was instrumental in getting them promoted to ‘A’ division rugby after being relegated. In 2014 and 2015 he was assistant coach of CR and FC with M.J.M. Mushtaq under Imthi Marikar as head coach and became the Clifford Cup Runners up team. In 2017 and 2018 he was extended an invitation by Police rugby committee headed by retired STF Commandant M.R Latheef to take up Police Rugby Coaching. In 2012 he was also the Head Coach of the Sri Lanka Junior National Youth Team and at present he is coaching the Thomians

He would like to extend his sincere gratitude to his motivator at all times Maxwell Dias, his first Junior Rugby Coaches Hyacinth Kumara, Sanath Asanjaya, Sudesh Abeysinghe, Late Nilantha Lakshmiweva and his first XV coach M.D.Ifthikar and Assistant coaches Pradeep Lakshantha, Leslie de Silva and Kelum Gunaratne for the support rendered in making him a quality player.

He went on to coach several mercantile teams in his career. His wife is Shamila Ismail and four children Shehran, Shayaan, Sarah, Shamarah who have given him all the support to continue his passion for rugby.