Tuesday 19 April 2016

Why don’t we get Madugalles and Arjunas any more

…And it was 35 years ago. 

As an early teen, I was so enthusiastic about extra-curricular activities at school, thus, every season, I participated at practice sessions of more than 20 different sports. I neither wanted nor I had the talent to be a sporting star, so that I never represented even the school team in any of those games. I was so happy and proud of practicing alongside the big names. 

My parents never bothered about what I stayed after school for. They knew that I was involved with one thing or the other in the right spirit. My mother’s only condition was that I never go even close to the college swimming pool. Few idiots have convinced her that as I have two vortices (සුළි දෙකක්) in my hair, I will have a high possibility of facing a tragic accident in water. 

We have never seen a parent in the peripherals of the ground, courts or ring, watching how their kids play. The only time that I remember a parent stepping across these boundaries was when a mother of a fellow mate (was it Kishan George?) brought a big cake into the basketball court for us to share as it was his birthday.

…And 25 years later....., 

I used to go to the same school, once in a while, on Saturdays, to pick my sons after their scouting sessions. 

The scouting room is located at a corner of the junior-school ground. About 10-15 kids were usually seen practicing cricket in the ground. And double the number of parents were sitting on the short concrete seating area beyond the boundary line, in small clusters. 

For every shot that reached the boundary, every ball that hit the wicket or every catch that is taken, a certain cluster of parents were cheering and clapping. Those kids were not even playing a practice match. They were just practicing.

Among these parents, several were those mates who played together with me during those good old days. Chatting casually with them I understood that many of these guys, who were once very close buddies, are no longer even looking at each other. Their wives were even more aggressive. Everyone has a story to tell.

“He used to offer many gifts as a bribe to the coach so that his son was selected to open the batting last season although the kid is the lousiest batsman in the squad”.

“That bitch is too close to the master-in-charge (then a wry grin), so that her son is always selected as the leg-spinner of the team ahead of our kid who turns the ball like Abdul Qadir”.

“All my friends say that our son will be the next Chaminda Vaas, so that all those stupid parents are so jealous that they poison the coach”.

Arrogance, frustration, vengeance, shrewdness, stupidity, self-inflation……. Their voices are filled with all sorts of emotions.

Not only cricket, whatever the sport you name, the issue is there. Not only in one school; from Royal to Dembaraweva Central College, the situation is the same.

Parents poke their nose, fingers, and everything possible into the kids’ affairs and spoil the whole picture. Master-in-charge, coach, school heads and even the principal are in utter stress. 

Willingly or unwillingly they have to bow their heads to the influential parents. Once they do that they are pampered with many perks…... bribes that come in various forms. 

If they try to swim against the tide, their lives become extremely uncomfortable. The first bullet comes from the almighty “old boys union”. The next one may be from a minister, the prime minister or even the president; else from a notorious underground kingpin. Thus, the vast majority will opt for the safer path; select the sons of the most influential.

Gradually, the talents were diminished and faded away. Parents with perseverance had to look for alternative paths for their children, if they have enough money. Thus, the affordable lot started playing for clubs and emerged into the national levels much latter.

A couple of decades ago most of our sporting heroes were born in the school arena, thus they had many years of sporting career. 

And now…………………


  1. Understood the reason. Thanks! (But with horrible pain inside)

    //They new that// knew?
    //For every short that reached the boundary// shot?

  2. Great post! I’ve already read many of your old English posts and would like to suggest that you translate those to Sinhala and repost them (specially posts like "Insulting Buddhism"). People should read those posts to change their pov. Keep up the good work Sir!

    1. Thanks Udaya for the kind comment. The issue is the time an loss of interest in working further on an already published article. Have a nice day

  3. Principals are helpless in some schools due to this so-called old boys/girls and swollen head parent's behaviour and attitude.

    I can remember the good old days at junior grounds with Ambaralla in one hand from achcharu karaththea and watching Madugallas,Pasquels, Saldins, Sonnaadaras and Bola Sarath et al were practising cricket....no parents....only some after schooi loafers like us, cricket masters, and the ground man who used to wear white short, baniyan and old fashioned cricket hat. Wonderful 1970s!!!

  4. I have been looking forward for several year to see someone voicing this national tragedy. Of course someone who has the authority and voice (not a tiny person like me).

    I only have the experience of "after 25 years" that the author mention. It is killing the whole system as I have lived with it in my school life. Influential people not only bribe the coach and masterincharge but openly boast about it. This is a plague. Sooner we eradicate it greater the chances of our sports surviving.

    Sir, kindly take this issue to a national platform. Please don't let the issue die with this article.

  5. ඉස්සරත් ඕවා ඔහොමම තිබුනා... එකම දේ ප්‍රසිද්ධියේ උනේ නෑ... බොහොම රහසෙන් සිද්ද උනේ... මමත් ඔහේගේ වයසෙම නිසා මේ දේවල් දන්නවා.. නමුත් අද කිසි පැකිලීමක් නැතිව ප්‍රසිද්ධියෙම සිද්ද වෙනවා...

    1. හොඳ උදාහරණය රණතුංග පවුලම ආනන්දේ ටීම් එකට ප්ලේ කිරීම. හේතුව අම්මා සහ දේශපාලණය..

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Dear sir, my child is just 4 years old. I wonder whether there is a school that let the child grow in their natural way with sharpened born talents.

    1. Not sure whether there are any such at present Romesh. May be we need a shift of paradigm when it comes to education in SL. Perhaps we need something like Isha Foundation (run by Sadhguru in India) in SL. A good business model yet change the whole scenario of child education

  7. And, how about the impact of tuition classes?

    1. Tuition classes were always there. Those who wanted to attend the sports, did that irrespective of their academic classes. Any way now tuition is a mania.