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Selectors fired for not entertaining Kandy SC rebels, says Dr. Maiya Gunasekera

Chairman of the National Sports Council, Dr. Maiya Gunasekera who was asked to go on a fact-finding mission, by the Minister of Sports and Public Recreation Gamini Lokuge, on the recent withdrawal of 12 Kandy SC players from national pool practices over the selection of CR and FC number eight Dushanth Lewke as captain for the impending tour of Chinese Taipei, said that in his view one of the main reasons for the removal of the Jupana Jayawardene led selection panel was for their steadfast refusal to accommodate the Kandy SC players at practices.

Minister Gamini Lokuge dissolved the previous selection panel of Brigadier Jupana Jayawardene and formed a new five-member panel led by Rohan Abayakoon.

The famed Consultant Surgeon of Nawaloka Hospital, Dr. Gunasekera said that at an inquiry conducted by the National Sports Council headed by him and officials comprising Kiran Atapattu, B. L. H. Perera, Sports Ministry Secretary S. Liyanagama and also involving the SLRFU Council and the previous selection panel, both Brigadier Jupana Jayawardene and the SLRFU President had spoken about the past behaviour of Kandy SC players when chosen for the national pool hence they should not be entertained at practices under such circumstances.

Dr. Maiya Gunasekera insisted that the Minister had carefully studied the findings of the National Sports Council before dissolving the Brigadier Jupana Jayawardene led selection panel, as they were not willing to entertain the Kandy SC players at practices saying those very players had behaved in similar unbecoming manner in the past.

Asked whether the National Sports Council has acted with vested interests in Minister Gamini Lokuge, forming a fresh five-member selection panel headed by Rohan Abayakoon, Dr. Gunasekera was eager to know what gains his Council could have with the Minister appointing a new panel of selectors.

“Only thing I have not done is refereeing in rugby,” he said.

“I have coached, been a manager, a physio, a doctor, I have also been a former Chairman of Selectors, and I have also been a former SLRFU chief.

“So, there is nothing for me to achieve in rugby.”

Dr. Maiya Gunasekera continuing further noted that both Kiran Atapattu and B. L. H. Perera cannot ever aspire to be the SLRFU President as they have never played ‘A’ division rugby, which is a prime requirement according to the Union constitution.

He stated that therefore it will be clear to the readers as to who the person or persons with vested interest are.

The former Sri Lanka, CR and FC and Royal lock asserted, that to suggest the National Sports Council had recommended to the Minister of Sports and Public Recreation to remove the Jupana Jayawardene led selection panel, was the ultimate slight on Minister Gamini Lokuge, who counts over 30 years of experience, as a prominent politician having served in the Government and Opposition at various stages of his political career.

“If someone thinks the Minister (Lokuge) can be taken for a ride then they are sadly mistaken,” he explained. “The Minister knows what is right and what is wrong. “He is an experienced trade union leader and knows his onions and he, I think, has taken everything on board before dissolving the previous panel of selectors.”

Dr. Gunasekera added that of the two other members of the National Sports Council, including ex IGP Indra de Silva, Kiran Atapattu is none other than the Cabinet appointed advisor to the Minister of Sports and that even B. L. H. Perera is a respected sports official.

He emphasised that the National Sports Council were not a bunch of jokers who could be swayed by every Tom, Dick or Harry and that they had gone on a fact-finding mission before putting across the findings to the Minister who took action subsequently.

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