Unity in diversity — the need of the hour says Manilal Fernando


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Vernon Manilal Fernando

by Gamini Perera
With appointment of a new Sports Minister, the young Johnston Xavier Fernando, the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) looks upon the need for unity and a glittering future of football culture in Sri Lanka.

It must be stated here that the 36-year old, Sports Minister had excelled at football during his schooldays at St. Anne’s College, Kurunegala.

This school of the Christian brothers produced such versatile footballers such as Edward Wickremesooriya (of national football fame), Thawfeeq, a prolific shooter in his day and Basnayake, one of the best goal-keepers we’ve seen in the late 1950s, to name just a handful.


Vernon Manilal Fernando, the ‘live-wire’ of the FFSL and a Vice-President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is all poised to work towards a new vision — a vision that would bring local football into focus in the world football scene.

‘The Island’ ponders today on some insights and enlightened goals outlined by this great benefactor of football, not only in Sri Lanka, but also in the international sphere of football — commonly called the "poor-man’s sport" here.

"Self-centred indifference, basically means an attitude where the person concerned feels about personal gain, benefits, conveniences and comfort and the like. Such an attitude of self-centredness is eventually self-destructive", thinks Fernando.

"Essentially, the enlightened personalities of this great sport should avoid two extremes — self-centred indifference on one side and self-centred fanstism on the other wing. Both are dangerous as well as destructive", is Fernando’s school of thought.

He says that the path of dialogue and openess to diversity requires loads of patience, humility and perseverance.

To survive

"This sort of attitude is a fallacy similar to a cell in the body trying to survive on its own", Fernando opined.

Manilal once outlining his own practical experience said that instead of a theory, he was proposing some steps for all football-loving people to follow. "We should not only respect diversity and different views, but should rightfully follow same", he said.

"Every part is different, but we accept and respect each other and work in unity for the common good of football at large. We need to develop movements and suggestions that are acceptable and foster these principles of unity and diversity, dialogue and accommodation", he went on.

Fernando said that these principles and concepts must be followed truthfully and steadfastly by the Asian Football authorities, now that the next World Cup will be staged in Japan and Korea — the first time two Asian nations are staging this great carnival of football.

Taking into consideration these concepts of Vernan Manilal Fernando, The Island strongly feels that the call of the hour is for all football authorities to patiently and courageously climb every mountain, patiently search every affiliated body of football governance and perseveringly follow every rainbow, until they realise their dreams.