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Educationist who devoted time to Elle

TOP ELLE PLAYER: At the beginning of the 20th century, Elle, was the most popular sports discipline in the coastal belt of Western and North Western Provinces.

Many Elle clubs sprang up in these areas. It became a very competitive game and there were many Elle matches played during the weekends. It was popularly known as the "Poor Man's Game".

Lorry loads of keen players and spectators flock to see their Teams in action. It was always a healthy and friendly competition. Sometimes very rarely they erupt.

Today, I feature a person, who was largely responsible in popularising this game in Sri Lanka. He was once a fine Elle Player, but later became an administrator who was responsible in popularising this game.

His name is T. D. Sebastian - a highly respected retired Principal and a Chief Consultant, coach and referee of Elle.

T. D. Sebastian

Elle is a sport, somewhat an imitation of the national summer game of USA - Baseball, which derived from English game of rounders.

Elle, is played between two teams, each 16 players, on a field with a base (Katti). There are three "Kattis". The rubber ball (Tennis Ball) is struck with mostly "Bamboo" stick, and players score a run by circuiting the bases (Katti).

In rural areas the game of Elle is played in open fields. After the harvest is collected Elle Match played in a paddy field is a common sight.

Born on 20th January 1926, T. D. Sebastian, hails from Heenkenda, Ragama. He had his Education at the Roman Catholic School, Kurukulawa. In 1944, he created history by coming first in the senior examination. For this achievement, he won the prestigious Hewavitharana Prize.

In 1945, he sat for the Training Entrance and was successful. In 1941, he entered the Teaching Training school Maggona, and started his career as a trained teacher. He ended his career as a highly respected principal in 1948.

He was a brilliant academic, a fine teacher and a principal and was a also a fine Elle player. In late 1940s, the name Sebastian and Elle became inseparable.

Elle became the "King of Sport" in the coastal belt and especially, Negombo, Kochchikade, Kandana. During this time, by 1960s, some of the popular Elle players in the country were Reginald Cabraal, Reggie Rodrigo, Lanty Amarasinghe, Abraham Caldera.

Formation of SL Elle Association

In the year 1962, some of the leading Elle players, with T. D. Sebastian formed the Sri Lanka Elle Association. H. D. Wijedasa was a pioneer of Elle like Sebastian. He was entrusted to formulate a code of rules and regulations to govern this game of Elle.

The enthusiastic Elle players were once guided by the Senior Police Superintendent of Police Mr. Ivor Vantvest.

In short, it was due to Sebastian, Wijedasa, and former Sports Editor late Wasantha Jayatilleke, Elle became one of the recognised sports disciplines in the Ministry of Sports. They were honest and committed. Sebastian was a brilliant teacher and a fine human being. He is a man of honesty and integrity.

"It was due to late V. A. Sugathadasa - that committed sports Minister who gave official recognition to this poor man's game. I must mention here from 2000 upto now, our President Mahinda Rajapakse and Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, were live wires of our Association as Presidents of the Sri Lanka Elle Association.

We are very grateful to them for the services they rendered to promote their poor man's game", stated T. D. Sebastian.

He mentioned that two of the most outstanding Elle players that he has seen were Totalanga Sunil Perera and T. D. Robert.

In the year 1963, as the Vice President of the Elle Association, Sebastian, played the additional role of coach cum consultant trainer, and held a Elle camp to educate the teachers of this country on the rules and regulations of Elle discipline.

"This coaching camp was a great success. About 100 teachers attended this training camp. It was held at St. Anthony's College, Katugastota. I am happy that they took this message of Elle to the length and breadth of the country and now it is recognised sports discipline in schools", stated Sebastian.

T. D. Sebastian is still a highly respected Elle Referee. He is married to Thilamina Gunasekera. She is a retired teacher.

They are blessed with two daughters - Lourdes Nirmala and Ruwini Ralmila. Ruwini, is in the University of Ottawa and pursuing her higher studies to obtain her Doctorate. She is married to Rohitha Perera. They are in Ottawa, Canada.



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