Colombo (LNW): Sports enthusiasts in South Africa are currently celebrating with great enthusiasm. This is due to their national rugby team’s recent victory in the world championship, and the team is now on a tour to proudly display their achievement to the people. No one should take it as a nationwide protest due to South Africa’s loss of 83 runs against India.
While Sri Lanka’s cricket team faced a loss of 55 runs, the Sports Minister of Sri Lanka is in a position to apportion the mistakes of the Sri Lankan cricket administration to the world with two more matches left, but South Africa went from being a forbidden country to the world and established itself as a good country in front of the world in terms of the factors that affected it and its image. South Africa made history after hosting and winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995. Since then, they have secured their position as the country with the highest number of Rugby World Cup victories.
The situation for Sri Lanka Rugby is notably distinct. Currently, Sri Lanka Rugby has experienced a decline from the status it once held in the realm of sevens rugby in Asia. The reason is that rugby is banned internationally. Political influence was seen as the reason. The impact of the Asia President on rugby in the country. In that regard, what the sports minister did was not to subject the Sri Lanka Rugby President to an investigation regarding the Asia President.
What he did was to dance to the tune of the Asia President against the Sri Lankan Rugby. He did not listen to the Sri Lanka President. Finally, the Minister banned Ruger due to this situation. Sri Lankan Rugby took its case to court. Looking at this, international rugby banned Sri Lanka Rugby calling it political influence.
The most important thing here is the Asian Rugby president’s country getting the sports minister to obstacles Sri Lankan rugby. Despite those obstacles, the result of the Asia Rugby President’s country is very important. In the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games, Sri Lanka came close to securing a fourth- place medal in rugby. Notably, in 2014, the United Arab Emirates, the home country of the Asia Rugby President, did not even qualify for the Asian tournament.
In 2018, they ranked 12th out of 12 teams in the Asian Games. During the same year, Sri Lanka, which had previously secured a 4th place position, participated under the The Olympic Council of Asia flag and dropped to the 10th place in the tournament.
The United Arab Emirates came from 12th place to 5th place while Sri Lanka got the result after getting out of the ban without time for proper training and participating amidst many obstacles. At this moment, the Sports Minister of Sri Lanka is going to meet the Asia President. The manner in which the Asia Rugby President is disregarding international conventions and sidestepping the officially appointed Sri Lanka Rugby administration seems to be aligning with the actions of the Sports Minister.
But the minister is encumbered by parliamentary privileges and declares that the citizenship of the Rugby President should be revoked. Dancing to the tune of the Asia President, he dons the role of a true patriot.
Now the minister is planning to bring the fate of rugby to cricket as well. If rugby, football, and cricket – the three sports that significantly contribute to Sri Lanka’s international revenue, are banned due to political interference, then the sports minister will be the best sports minister Sri Lanka has ever had. Although the minister’s behavior is explained line by line, the truth is not accepted.
His behavior displays a blend of foolishness and arrogance, to the degree that public perception could erode the prestige associated with the ministerial position. The best way to hide that feeling is to invite educated and intelligent neutral people to places like the National Sports Council to advise. Instead, he opted for individuals who held personal grievances against the current administrations.
They are ready to take the game back through the rules of the game. Although the world needs to create a freer environment for sports, the National Sports Council is blessing the necessary environment to widen the space for the Minister of Sports to reach out to the sport. It is to put their heads inside.
The most notable contribution of the current Sports Minister has been through the power of their voice.
He is offering criticism of the decisions made by sports associations, all while managing a sports ministry that often lacks the financial means to even provide air tickets for many athletes in need. He is exerting control or influence over them. In the process of benefiting from others’ resources, he is also seeking funds from places where financial resources are available for the betterment of his ministry. This behavior is akin to demanding money as a thugs.
Featured in themain photograph are South African rugby captain Siya Kolisi, the country’s Sports minister Shishi Kodwa, and the Rugby President Mark Alexander. The second photo portrays the President of the Asian Rugby Federation, who played a role in elevating the United Arab Emirates to the fifth position in Asia, and the sports minister of Sri Lanka, who followed his decisions and brought an international ban to Sri Lanka Rugby and contributed to bringing the 4th ranked Sri Lanka Rugby down to the 10th position.
Perhaps, in this meeting, it’s possible that these two individuals had a conversation filled with satisfaction regarding the United Arab Emirates’ impressive ascent from the last place to the 5th position in the Asian Games.
*Adapted from original article “ක්රිඩාව, ලංකාව සහ දකුණු අප්රිකාව” by Nishman Ranasinghe published on 06.11.2023.