Hansadi and Hansana Win National Youth Chess Titles – The Island

by A special sports correspondent

Army Sports Club lived up to expectations when its cricketers won the Major Club T-20 Cricket Tournament a few days ago by beating Colts Cricket Club in the deciding match. Led by Thisara Perera and coached by Roger Wijesuriya, the team of security forces are proud and have brought them back into recognition on the national cricket scene. Last season, Army finished as the losing finalist in the same tournament.

The person behind the success of the Army SC team, Wijesurya, said in an interview that his players are blessed. “I say this because I am a Christian. I don’t want to use the word lucky. These players make a career in the Sri Lankan army and an advantageous retirement program awaits them. That is why I maintain that they are blessed,” Wijesuriya said. He said most of the other cricketers at the club don’t have that security because they only focus on cricket. Most of these players are employed to play cricket for a specific period, like a few months. “What are they going to do when they can no longer play due to old age or injury,” Wijesuriya asked.

The former Sri Lankan cricketer, who has represented the country in both forms of the game, says when a player is employed because he knows a trade, it enables him to be a better thinker of the game “When you work in a company or an establishment, you meet superiors who are intellectuals and that is a way of gaining wisdom. Otherwise, although you are a cricket champion, you may think like a kid,” said the Army coach who said he worked in the Mercantile industry for over 25 years in sales.

Wijesuriya said that during his time players were gainfully employed in the commercial sector and managed cricket and labor. According to him, cricketers of his time concentrated on office work in the mornings and played cricket only in the evenings. Still, many of them went on to represent Sri Lanka. “The current setup of requiring players to train from morning till 1pm is ruining their chances of being employed in any company,” Wijesuriya warned. He praised the army authorities for employing many cricketers. There are more than 10 regiments in the army and each unit has its cricket team which plays competitive cricket. Army players also have the freedom to represent other teams (during times when they are not representing the Army) and also to go home on weekends.

The Sri Lankan army has also produced its share of national cricketers and a player like HIK Fernando stands tall. At present, they have Seekkuge Prasanna who was at one time a national team regular. He was the match winner in the brilliant final with a bat and a ball. According to Wijesuriya Army Recruits, army recruits are granted a pension after retirement and before stopping in the forces, such employees are offered training in a selected profession so that they can be gainfully employed during their retirement.

So the parting words from the winning army coach were, “Keep working in a career outside of cricket because who knows, that job might be a career later in life. God gave you a talent, so maybe you are destined to be a great barber or a salesman and not necessarily a national cricketer. Not everyone who plays cricket is part of the national team, so having a career or interest outside of cricket is essential.” Wijesuriya said players in general who are employed part-time (referring to players outside the military) in cricket need to think beyond getting a contract and think about full-time employment.

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