By Shamzeer Jaleel
In a landmark in the history of Sri Lanka Rugby for the very first time the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo came forward to sponsor Provincial Rugby in the country.
This is a great achievement in the century plus years history of Sri Lanka Rugby, a High Commission coming forward to sponsor provincial rugby in the country.
The agreement between the High Commissioner of Pakistan Major General Umar Farooq Burki and Sri Lanka Rugby President Rizly Ilyas was signed yesterday.
Both Sri Lanka and Pakistan locked horns in a rugby encounter in 1952 way back 70 years ago. In that encounter Ceylon Rugby Football Union hosted the prestigious all India Rugby Tournament in Colombo where Karachi Rugby Football Union lost to Ceylon Barbarians.
Ilyas said: “We would like to humbly thank Pakistan High Commissioner Major General Umar Farooq Burki for coming forward to support the game of Rugby Football in Sri Lanka for the first time with a sponsorship for the Provincial Development tournaments. Out of the eight Provincial Unions, we have planned to conduct four development tournaments in the coming months with this sponsorship in selected districts.”
“Recently, one of the greatest achievements for Pakistan Rugby was beating Thailand and to qualify for the second division Asia Rugby Championship at the Punjabi Stadium in Pakistan. As this is great news to us, we are hopeful and looking forward to a South Asia Triangular Tournament between Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka in the near future,” the SLR President said.
“We believe that sports always connect people. We in fact have witnessed this at the ongoing cricket series of Australia tour of Sri Lanka even though Sri Lanka is going through one of the toughest times in history with the ongoing economic crisis, we, as one nation, stood behind to support the National Cricket team in this series,” Rugby Chief added.
Rizly also said: “Rugby is the most popular sport after cricket. This is a great opportunity that the Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka came forward to fund for SLR provincial development tournament where it will surely help for better standards of the Game of Rugby in Sri Lanka. It’s a known fact that Pakistan is a country who have always been loving sports. The purpose of this year’s sponsorship is to help players and clubs who are finding it difficult financially to pursue their passion for this sport. We at SLR are grateful for your kind gesture.”
“Sri Lanka and Pakistan remain close friends in all fields. We do help for other sports plus give away computers and water for needy in the rural area. While walking near Independence Square I have seen many youngsters involved in rugby. For cricket there are many to support but for other sports it’s limited. That’s why we came forward to support provincial rugby,” said High Commissioner of Pakistan Major General Umar Farooq Burki.
Deputy High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka Tanivr Ahmed and First Secretary Ayesha Abu Bakr Fahad attended the press briefing.