Antonian Lasantha Wijesuriya was one of the finest ruggerites-by Althaf Nawaz

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Lasantha Wijesuriya

Source:Dailynews

It is rare to find a person who excelled in sports in addition to leadership qualities. Lasantha Anthony Wijesuriya was one of the finest ruggerites produced by St.Anthony’s College, Kandy and went on to represent several clubs and Sri Lanka

Lasantha was born in 1972 to a humble family of four brothers and four sisters. The only sports background that Lasantha had was that his two brothers played hockey for St. Sylvester’s College. No one anticipated that this youngster would mature and transform to become a prominent figure in rugby in Sri Lanka.

Lasantha was admitted as a young kid to St. Anthony’s College, Kandy in 1977 for his primary education. He then emerged on the sporting scene by playing football for his club ‘Saunders Sports Club’ in Aruppola, Kandy. This was a stepping stone in his life where he engaged himself to play football for his college, . While playing soccer, he was very enthusiastic in participating in athletic meets in the100 and 200 metres, Hurdles and Long jump respectively throughout his school life. For his outstanding performance he was awarded College Colours, the Antonian Eagle as well as Sri Lanka School colours for exceptional performance in athletics.

Lasantha had an interesting history as he took to rugby which he never showed interest in playing, amidst many invitations from coaches and teachers.However, one day some of his friends dragged him forcefully for rugby practices, from where he started handling the oval shaped ball. Lasantha had so much potential in him as he ended up captaining every age group commencing from under-13 level until he played his final year for college first XV team in 1991. He was a profound leader as he led his charges exceptionally well to end up within the top five in the R. Premadasa Trophy Tournament. He extended his sincere gratitude to Kalu Perera, the coach who monitored Lasantha’s progress from childhood since the under-13 level up to the first XV, in his final year. He was elevated to receive college colours and the ‘Eagle’ for the outstanding service done towards the college. After showcasing his skills and talents at school level, Lasantha was invited by Tony Amit and Kishin Butani to play for CH and FC soon after college, which he obliged at a time where CH were the champion club of that era. Lasantha played as the Centre three quarter along with Rohan Abeykoon as well as many other well-known players such as Asitha Boteju (Captain), Apsi Nagata, Simon Hunter, Sudesh Abeysinghe, Chanka Jayaweera, Hisham Abdeen, Chandrishan Perera and Jude Dimithri to name a few. CH went on to emerge champions in 1992. Soon after an exceptional season, he was selected to represent Sri Lanka at the age of 20 years in the Rugby Asiad held in Korea, which was captained by Priyantha Ekanayake.

Following his belligerent performance at national level, he had to make crucial decisions in his illustrious rugby career, as he shifted clubs in 1993, when he was offered to don the Kandy Sports Club(KSC) jersey. He enrolled under the guidance of Dr.Sarath Kapuwatte who was the president of KSC along with Malik Samarawickrama, the trustee and the livewire of Kandy rugby.. The young talent was moulded into a lethal weapon of Kandy Sports Club where he played until 1999, while winning several championships . Moreover, he reached the pinnacle of his career under his captaincy in 1997 when KSC went on to clinch the ‘Triple Crown’remaining as an unbeaten side which was a historic moment for them. This changed the complexion of the game in the hill capital which is maintained until now, Kandy Sports Club is so proud of, remaining as the only unbeaten side in the fray. Some of his team mates during that year were Apsi Nagata, Manasa Qoro, Thuru Opethi, Imthi Marikar, Dunstan de Silva, Nalin Dissanayake,Duminda Silva, Nalaka Weerakkody, Asoka Jayasena. He would like to extend a token of appreciation to his coach Nimal Lewke and Siva Subramanium, the Chairman of Rugby.

Beside playing for Kandy Sports Club, Lasantha devoted his life to represent his country at the highest level until 1999, competing in many tournaments such as Rugby Asiads and Hong Kong sevens tournament for quite some time. After hanging up his boots in 1999, he went on to coach St. Anthony’s College for a year and later took over as Chairman of Rugby of Kandy Sports Club since 2002. Since then, he has served in various capacities like managing the team, team selection and the most important aspect of enforcing discipline at Kandy Sports Club, which apparently has been the success story behind them for the last two decades. Lasantha,is grateful to Malik Samarawickrama, the person who helped him to mature as a player as well as a good leader. He considers Samarawickrama as his mentor, friend and a father figure.

He is married to Thamari who has been a pillar of strength in his ups and downs in life and played a pivotal role in his success story.He has two sons – Lashan and Krishan.

Lashan followed in his footsteps when he represented Trinity College and played as a Fly Half.

He went on to become the highest points scorer in his last year in 2017 for Trinity.

Lashan while being a talented ruggerite pursued his higher studies in Australia and graduated with distinction and was ranked among the top 15 at Deakin University. Krishan played rugby until the under-18 age group and pursued his passion of becoming a Chef. He is currently studying to become a Chef at William Angliss Institute in Australia, one of the world renowned hospitality institutes.

Apart from Rugby, Lasantha is employed as the Senior operations manager at Crystal Martin Central (Pvt) Ltd.

where he runs one of the most efficient garment manufacturing plants in the island. Rugby has helped him not only gain valuable skills but also to develop a good personality while making friends and followers. His aspiration is to give back the best to his community and to Sri Lanka rugby to reclaim its former glory while giving his best for the game.



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