U.W.Sumathipala gave his life for Billiards and Snooker
U.W. Sumathipala was considered a legend and gave his best during his
life time for Snooker. In late 1980's to early 1990's the Billiards and
Snooker Association of Sri Lanka (BSASL) and the Pakistan Billiards and
Snooker Association, played a Snooker test, the inaugural test was
played in 1989 from December 21 to 26, which was organized by BSASL. It
was a dual snooker championship with three test matches. The first was
played in Nuwara Eliya at the Grand Hotel, and the second at Kandy
Garden Club organized by this writer, the third in Colombo at the
Galadari Meriden hotel.
This idea for this test came from Jagath Sumathipala, the man who
gave his best for the cue sport when he was president, the Pakistan
Billiards and Snooker President Ali Asgi Valika the person who did all
the hard work to make it a grand success in organizing was Capt. Sarath
J de Alwis who was the Secretary General of the BSASL.
The others who were in the organizing committee were Ananda Weerakoon,
Trevor Bultjens, Ramly Vilcasim, D.G. Daluwatte, A. Gunasekara, Sam de
Silva, S.M.Sharwadi and Ameen Bhaila.
Pakistan team was made out of cueist in the caliber of Taneer Dada,
Mohameed Usoof, Naveeni Perwan, Sarwar Ajaz Siddiqui, Mansoor Karm
Shaikh, Mohamed Younus and Imran Puri. Sri Lanka team comprised players
like M.H. Raibin, Henry Boteju and M.J. "Chutti" Mansoor, M.S.M. Naufer,
Indika Dodngoda, Susantha Boteju, Abdul Latif and K.H. Sirisoma who won
the National title for the 21st occasion a few days back.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan are well known for their sporting traditions
and they are the founder members of the Asian Billiards and Snooker
Federation. This test series went off for about five years and it was
one of the most looked forward snooker tournaments of the year for both
countries and the winner was presented with a handsome sterling silver
cup and cash awards, sadly today this series is unheard.
At one time Billiards and snooker was a popular sport in the country.
This sport produced the first ever Sri Lankan World Champion late M.J.M.
Lafir, who was also two time number two the Asian Snooker tournament.
Late U.W.Sumathipla made valuable contribution for the cue sport,
after his death his family continued. He was an ever jovial person and
an ardent lover of the cue sport.
He was one man who in spite of his manifold business commitments made
it a point to play either of the games during the day and night
specially at his favorite club Anglers Sports Club of which club he was
the president at the time of his death.
He initiated the late M.J.M. Lafir from his early days to engage in
long practice session at his club tables to train Lafir before the first
ever World Amateur Billiard Championships. When M.J.M Lafir won the
World Championship in 1973 in Bombay Sumathipla was there with him. U.W.
as he was called made it a point to be present at Lair's match and
practice sessions and encouraged him to the hilt.
Having seen Lafir making a break of 500 in Billiards on one occasion
he had told Lafir one day you will become the world champion and
Sumathipala would share the honor with him by his presence. As promised
he accompanied Lafir to Bombay and not only did he become his personnel
confident but also looked after his material and financial needs.
True to his prediction Lafir became the World Amateur Billiard
Champion and the proud Sumathipala landed on Sri Lankan soil with the
World Champion for a red carpet welcome. After Sumathipala's death his
good wife Milina Sumathipala and his sons Jagath and Thilanga gave a big
helping hand for the cue sport in no small measure. When the Billiards
and Snooker headquarters was housed at Reid Avenue, renovation of the
premises was done by the courtesy of the Sports Minister. The
Sumathipala family made the biggest contribution towards this. In 1986
during the time of the 3rd Asian Snooker Championship which was held in
Sri Lanka, U.W. Sumthipala Memorial Billiards Hall was opened at the
Race Course head quarters.
His son Jagath who was one time president of the Sri Lanka Billiards
and Snooker Association and Asian Snooker Association followed his
father's footsteps and gave a big hand to promote the game. He organized
an Asian and a World Championship in Sri Lanka and during his presidency
this writer was the Manager of the Sri Lanka team and knows how Jagath
helped the game. He sponsored several cueist when they go on tours for
One should know the brief history of the Billiards and Snooker
Association of Sri Lanka. Although Billiards had been played in Sri
Lanka almost from the early 1900's, people viewed the game with some
caution. This was due to some of the hotels which had Billiard rooms
using the signboards indicated "BAR AND BILLAIRDS" this was to invite
all fans. This close association of the Bar with Billiards as service to
However the formation of the Ceylon Amateur Billiards association
(which was the origin name of the present Billiards and Snooker
Association of Sri Lanka in May 1948 did much to establish the game of
billiards as a respected sport in this country.
The credit of this is due to large measures to the former sports
editor of the Daily News M.M. Thawfeeq the then Billiards Secretary of
the MICH (Moors Islamic Cultural Home) from Dematagoda.
It was he who convened the first meeting of the Billiard playing
clubs in the country. Eight Clubs responded to this invitation and the
meeting was on May 30, 1948 at MICH Dematagoda.
The Club and delegates were Siri Perera, le de Soysa (SSC),
M.C.F.Abeyakoon, R. Batuwantudawe (Colombo YMBA) J. Wijeyartham,
R.,B.Tammita (Central YMCA) A.J.M. Sadiq, S.T.M. Rauf, A.J.M. Jabir
(Excelsior Billiards Club) Dunstan de Silva, Bernard Mendis (Bandarawela
Tennis Club) Maj. A. F de Saa Bandaranayake (Galle Gymkhana Club) M.Y.M.
Mushoor, A.R.M. Saleem, M.Izzet Zaiudeen (MICH). Letters of absence
assuring full support was sent form Kandy YMMA, Kotehena CYMA.
The first Annual General Meeting took place on June 27, 1948. Sir.
Earnest de Silva (Patron) Maj. A.F. de Saa Bandaranaike, Siri Perera,
Fred de Saram, E.A.P. Fernando, M.Y.M. Mushood were elected as (Vice
Patrons) S.L.B.Kapukotuwa President, M.M Thawfeeq. (Secretary) M. R.
Batuwantudawe (Treasurer), committee had people like Bernard Mendis, C.
Raju, S.T.M.Rauf, J. Wijeuyaertnam, M.S.Jainudeen, M.K.M. Ismail and
This committee in seven months organized the first exhibition in
Billiards and Snooker in 1949 where Frank Edwards the English Champion
and T.A. Selvaraj the Indian Champion were seen in action at the YMBA
tables at Borella.
Today the Billiards and Snooker Association of Sri Lanka is 65 years
old and look bleak needing a complete rejuvenation with the assistance
of the Ministry of Sports and all district organization to rally around
and get this sport to what it was in the past.
Although there are no active organizations, many a small time clubs
and private enthusiastic have private clubs and concentrate on pool
tables and this has become an entertainment hub in Kandy and its