Saturday, 15 February 2003  
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Sports circles applaud FFSL President

by Elmo Rodrigopulle

Sporting circles applaud the decision of the President of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka, DIG Gamini Randeni, not to accept the resignation of Manilal Fernando, from all positions he is holding in the Federation.

Sports personalities reckon, that Fernando is indispensible not only to football but sports in general in the country.

They admit that it is sport that requires Fernando, and not that Fernando requires sport.

Fernando from the time he came into football, has been giving his all to see to the improvement and development, not only of the participants, but also the administrators and all other requirements for the game. Fernando does not need football for his living. In fact it is football that is living and thriving from his largesse. Blessed with every good thing he needs in life, coming down from his parents ad ancestors, Fernando is a happy and contended man and does not need sport to enrich his lifestyle.

One of the outstanding lawyers, representing the Kalutara bar, Fernando in fact had to sacrifice a lucrative practice to see to the development of the poor man's game in the country.

What Fernando has done for the player, the game and the administrator, need not be reiterated here. When historians put pen to paper, they will write that Fernando has given the game, niceties that it never ever enjoyed in its history.

There is a joke doing the rounds which says that when a Sri Lankan is ascending, you don't need others to pull him down, his countrymen will do the needful. That joke is true of Fernando.

In recent times Fernando has come in for a savage attack for no justifiable reason. Here is a man who is doing wonders for sport, going even to the extent of spending his own money. So need an illustrious personality of Fernando's standing be a whipping boy?

When Sri Lanka conducted the first South Asian Federation Games, President Premadasa realising the talent that was in Fernando as a sports promoter and organiser gave him an important job which he performed, not only to the President's satisfaction, but to the satisfaction of all.

Then when the recent Asian Athletic Championships was held here, Minister Johnston Fernando, too took Fernando under his wing and gave him a free hand.

In appreciation of what Fernando has personally achieved and what he has done for football, requires that a statue be erected in his honour.

Not only Manilal, but his namesake Minister of Sport, Johnston Fernando too has come in for a bashing.

Bashing because he is not setting up an inquiry. Johnston knows what a dedicated and honest man Manilal is. An inquiry will be a dishonour to this great man.

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