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Life and times in sport by Premasara Epasinghe

All-round and outstanding sports personality

Shammi Silva

He is a multi-faceted sportsman. As a schoolboy, he started with badminton, then took up to athletics, and cricket and ended his sports career as National Player, Manager and a coach in squash. A fine sports administrator, today, he is the newly elected President/Chairman of Gymkhana Club - Colombo Cricket Club.

He is Atulugamage Shammi Shiraj Silva, popularly known as Shammi Silva.

Undoubtedly, Shammi Silva, is a many faceted personality that has endeared himself to a vast cross-section of sports fans.

He was born on August 7, 1960. His father was Piyadasa Silva and his beloved mother's name Seelawathie Silva. He entered Nalanda Vidyalaya, Colombo in 1966. His brother's name is Dilruk Silva.

Established public schools record

"From my childhood, I took a liking to sports, especially athletics. In 1973, I won the first place in Putt-shot and Discus Throw events in the Public schools meet held in 1974. Then, in 1975, I won the Putt-shot, Discuss and Javaline Throw events. In 1976, I won all these three events in the Public schools meet establishing three new meet records," stated Silva.

At Nalanda, Cricket was the glamour game. In 1976, Silva tried his hand at cricket. This rolly-polly smart stocky, athlete, made his mark as a fine all-rounder. He was a pace bowler and a hand-hitting batsman. While playing in the junior Under 16 cricket team he got his break to play in the First XI in 1976, under the captaincy of S. P. Fernando. He played along with Susantha Karunaratne, Hemantha Devapriya and Aruna Ranasinghe/Anura Ranasinghe's younger brother.

In 1980, he had the proud distinction of leading the Nalanda First XI. Sanath Kaluperuma, Keerthi Ranasinghe, late Roshan Gunaratne, Bandula de Silva and Devaka Mahanama played under him.

Indebted to late Gerry Gooneratne

"As a schoolboy, I played Division One cricket for CCC under Michael Tissera. It was a great experience. I learned a lot and learned the finer points of the game. Here I must mention, that it was my beloved father who guided me and helped me in my sports career. At school, I learned my basics under that great coach late Gerry Gooneratne. He not only taught us cricket but moulded our character too. I am really indebted to him," stated Silva.

Gymkhana Club - CCC

He was very fortunate to be a member of one of the oldest clubs in Sri Lanka, established in 1863 - Gymkhana Club. Under the Gymkhana club umbrella there were three clubs - CH&FC (Rugby & Hockey) Colombo Cricket Club (cricket) Queens Club (Tennis).

For Shammi Silva, Gymkhana Club, Colombo 7 is his second home. Today, he is the newly elected Chairman of the club. In a phase of two and half decades he achieved this prestigious position through sheer dedication, discipline, commitment and hard work. Some day, his name will be written in Gold for the services he rendered to the uplift of the Gymkhana Club, specially as the Project Chairman of the Gymkhana Pool Complex. Today, this prestigious club has a membership of over 1,110 members. About six or seven decades ago, Colombo Cricket Club was an exclusive club for foreign expatriates.

Being a member of the Gymkhana Club for past 26 years, he witnessed many change and improvements to the club. To mention a few achievements would be the club gaining Test status as a venue in cricket, Floodlit, Tennis courts, Indoor Cricket Nets and International standard Class Back Two Squash Courts.

The latest addition being the new building which consists of 25 meter swimming pool, a learners pool and a kiddies pool.

Shammi's qualities as a captain

The role of leadership is more significant in cricket than in any sport. The captain must know how to deploy whatever skills his players have at their disposal.

In short, a captain must get the best out of his team, by helping them to play together, without suppressing their flair and uniqueness.

It is a requirement of captaincy not to panic in situations. The great captains, like others who command respect, have some indefinable quality called Charisma.

Shammi Silva possessed all these qualities when he captained college and CCC.

He captained the CCC in 1983/1984 with distinction. Roger Wijesooriya, Grahem Labrooy, Asanga Seneviratne, Sumithra Warnakulasuriya, Ken De Alwis and Jerome Jayaratne were some of the outstanding players in his outfit.

In 1985, he bid farewell to cricket and started his career as a squash player. Soon, he became the No. 2 squash player to Gihan Fernando in Sri Lanka and won National Colours. He toured Kuwait and India with the Sri Lanka Team.

With the formation of the Squash Federation, he became an active member, a player, manager and coach. He mastered the game so well very soon, he was appointed as the National Coach for Squash. He became a fine Squash administrator and was elected as the Manager of the Sri Lanka National Squash Team at the Commonwealth Games held in Malaysia and Asian Games held in Bangkok. Sri Lanka's No. 1 Squash player Saman Tillekeratne was coached by Shammi Silva.

He is happily married to Roberta. They have two daughters - Shashinka and Shanilka who are studying at St. Bridget's Convent, Colombo 7.

Unassuming, charming, pleasant Shammi Silva, is one of the nicest sportsmen that I have met. He is a fine human being and a thorough gentleman.

I congratulate Shammi, the newly elected Chairman of the Gymkhana Club of Sri Lanka.



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