Hasitha Perera the football player turned ruggerite | Daily News

Hasitha Perera the football player turned ruggerite

Some sportsmen follow and are inspired by certain popular figures who excel in that particular sport in the International arena. Hasitha Perera was a player who was a great fan and followed Sebastien Chabal the French national rugby player whose performance encouraged him to take up rugby from the school level to compete in the International arena donning the National jersey.

Hasitha Perera had a nickname called ‘Hassa’ in the rugby circles. He was born in 1985 in Colombo and his father was late Gunapala Perera worked as a Mechanic while mother Somawathi was a housewife. He has an elder brother Jeewaka, a former under-19 national football player currently working as assistant swimming coach at St. Peters College, Colombo. Hasitha was over six feet in height and had a playing weight of 120 kgs.

He started his school career with Lumbini College, Colombo from 1991 to 2003 later was offered a scholarship at Ananda College, Colombo to play Rugby whilst continuing his Advanced Level studies from 2003 to 2004. Even though he became the cynosure of all eyes in rugby, he initially competed in other sports like swimming from the age of six followed by football at the age of 12 and then stormed in to handling the oval shaped ball. The body structure of him gave the added advantage in participating in rugby at college where he went on to lock horns in the pack as a second row player.

He played a pivotal role by winning the ball for his team in line outs while giving that extra strength in the rucks and mauls. He was also selected to play in the college basketball team from the age of 16 years on par with rugby. At Lumbini, he captained the under-19 football team which won the Brazil Cup in 2003 which his brother achieved the same feat two years earlier captaining his ‘Alma Mater’.

With motivation from the French rugby player Sebastien Chabal, he started playing rugby for the under-13 team at Lumbini when he was 12 years old. But he was injured playing rugby when he was 15 years and decided to continue with football while always having the passion for the game of rugby.

He restarted playing rugby again from the under-17 age group hiding it from his parents who were concerned about him being injured and requested him to engage in football leaving out rugby. Nevertheless, with the progress in rugby, maturing as a useful player, his parents became the biggest supporters, and his mother especially never missed a single match. When he scrummed with the under-19 Lumbini team he was selected for the under-19 National team in 2003. The Lumbini senior coach at that time was Vikum Damsiri. He toured Malaysia in 2003 with the under-19 team coached by late George Simpkin, to whom he is grateful for the opportunity granted, after which he was selected for the senior National squad in 2004 playing in several tournaments. In 2007 he moved to Brive-la-Gaillarde in France, where he played semi-professional rugby for a club called Malemort and returned to Sri Lanka in 2010.

His tenure with the Sri Lanka team commenced in 2012 against Philippines and surged ahead to represent Asian Five Nations Division 1 tournament held in Sri Lanka in 2013. In 2014, he competed with the National team at the Asian Five Nations Top Five Championship involving Korea and Japan.

Same year, he was selected for Asia Pacific Dragons team 10’s tournament played in Hong Kong which was made possible by Hale T-Pole a Tongan national who gave the opportunity to be part of this team which was delighted to have the experience of being coached by Tana Umaga (former All Blacks captain) and Danny Lee (also former All Blacks). There he played with George Smith and Radike Samo (former Wallabies), Alesana Tuilagi (former Samoan national player) and Nili Latu (former Tongan national player). He was later offered a contract by Hale T-Pole to join the Ricoh Black Rams in Tokyo,

Japan for which he was thankful to them. He lived there for a few months while part of that team, but unfortunately suffered a slipped disc which brought him back to Sri Lanka.

While playing for Ananda, he joined CR and FC in 2003 where he launched his club rugby career and went onto represent them until he left for France in 2007. In 2005, CR club coach was Grant Dwyer with whom he shared his knowledgeHe is thankful to CR President Ravi Balasuriya and Secretary Jehan Canagaretna at that time who took great care of him and his career. It was a pleasure to play with a group of legends during this time like Viraj Prashantha, Asanga Rodrigo, Shamly Nawaz, Savantha de Saram under the captaincy of Pavithra Fernando. Formed a great bond at CR and FC sharing the scrum with Anuja Perera, Dhanushka Boteju (Botha), Ashean Karthelis (Kara), Shamil Mohamed which remained rock solid pack in the game in that era. In 2012, he joined Up Country Lions and in 2013 Havelocks. In 2014, he moved to Navy and in 2015 his career ended on a sad note with a fracture while playing for Navy after which he hung up his boots.

In 2012, he started training as a group fitness instructor and as a personal trainer with a Colombian trainer Eli Usman, soon after his rugby career. He concentrated full-time into the fitness industry, helping others to achieve their health and fitness goals.

In 2019, he co-founded the business called the ‘Island Spin Fit’ along with his partner Liz Adamson, from the UK, whom he met in 2016 is also a fitness instructor as well as chartered accountant. At present they run all sorts of group exercise classes - spin fit (indoor cycling), boot camp, box fit, beach workouts, online workouts - as well as personal training in Colombo.