Sports
Men to remember in local soccer
M. Premadasa — The gentle giant

by Gamini Perera
This is another story, of a pint-sized man, who is doing a giant-sized job.

Short in stature, but dynamic in his ways, Madurage Premadasa, was Secretary, City Football League, formed in 1922 for a record 22 years, elected unanimously. During his tenure as Secretary, City FL, Premadasa had done a great service and also was called upon to performsome duties by the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL).

Being a Sinhalese, it is remarkable that M. Premadasa was selected uncontested as Secretary of the City FL, Slave Island — known as the bastion of local football, where the majority are football-crazy Muslims.

Premadasa, was also secretary, Browns Group and had toured many Asian countries as coach of mercantile football teams.

The dusky and amiable personality, he is, Premedasa is a well-known figure among the football fraternity in Sri Lanka.

"I even represented the Browns Group as a player of the 1979 champion team, where Browns won the prestigious National Championship in 1979, after a lapse of sixteen years", chipped in Premadasa.

Before he was elected treasurer of the incumbent FFSL, he was the Treasurer of the Colombo FL, Football Secretary, Browns Group, General Secretary, Black Square SC, in its heydays and council-member of the Mercantile FL.

Director, Logistics

Premadasa is now Director, Logistics of the FFSL, where he is doing a good job appreciated by one and all at the Football Federation.

The 52-year-old Premadasa, who hails from Kelaniya has stood down as Secretary, City FL, paving the way for another hard-working football personality, Jothi Mallawarachchi to take up reins as Secretary, City FL.

Premadasa, joined the Football Federation in 1979, when Manilal Fernando was emerging as a force to be reckoned with in local football. This was a period when the then Sports Minister, the late M. Vincent Perera dissolved the Football Federation of Sri Lanka.

During his 22 years as Secretary, City FL, Premadasa had worked with consumate ease and had rendered all the co-operation to F. A. Yaseen, President City FL, another local football great. Premadasa had accompanied national teams abroad on several occasions and had been a ‘darling’ of the players.

Lifeblood

As Premadasa holding office in any club, league or the national body, he has proved to be its lifeblood owing to the hard work and the dedication he shows in his work.

The word, Anthropomorphic is seldom heard, or more rarely spelt. Anthropomorphism is to attribute human form to a thing. Premadasa applies this virtue to his day to day dealings and that’s why, ever since M. Premadasa climbed the football stage in any capacity, he had been regarded as the lifeblood of any football body.

Premadasa, matching creativity with constraint has long been the brain of many a football organisation.

The affable Premadasa laughs when he is asked what it feels like to be a vital part in any organisation he represents, "I’ll leave it to the people to make their own assessment," he says modestly.

"When I hear my superiors and contemporaries support me, I feel as though I’m just doing my job."

Commands respect

The job that Madurage Premadasa has been executing admirably since the early 1970s, means that he is not just among the generations of local football administrators, but one who also commands the utmost respect and reverence.

A product of Sariputra Vidyalaya in Slave Island, he had always put his heart and soul to serve the cause of football - the common man’s sport in Sri Lanka.

This writer, associating with Premadasa for well over three decades, has seen the tremendous output he puts into his work. "He is a glutton for hard work", I say.

"Every man will have varied problems, as well as his strong points, I have grown along with various teams, clubs and leagues, but all these squads have been different", says Premadasa.

"New challenges await me and there will always be new problems in the horizon to confront", said Premadasa with a twinkle in his eyes.

Speaking of our present day players, Premadasa emphatically said:" Our players, the ones that are good enough, have all the opportunities to play as professionals, in our country or elsewhere in the world of football."

Finally, this writer mentions that Madurage Premadasa could act as a catalyst for the development of football, not only in Sri Lanka, but throughout the Asian region. Madurage Premadasa is a gentle-giant and an inspiration to the rest!


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