We have heard and seen of teachers serving schools with dedication for two, three or nearly four decades to produce disciplined citizens but it is rarely that we hear of any individual who serves almost the same period in sports activities of a school.
One of them, who stands tall, is Dinesh Kumarasinghe who has been involved with dedication towards sporting excellence, and that too to his alma mater, S. Thomas’ Mt Lavinia, known fondly as the school by the seaside.
Dinesh is the incumbent cricket coach of S. Thomas’ and is a proud man, as he celebrates 25 years in this coaching stint at his alma mater which began in the year 1988, apart from being the present Director of Sports, curator and sports faculty manager. He has also been involved in coaching stints for various domestic clubs in the island, which extends his years of coaching to 35 years.
Dinesh was not hoping to be a cricket coach, as was planning to get into the field of the plantation sector and was on the verge of joining the Janatha Estate Development Board but fate, they say, changes the destiny of a person without his knowledge.
Coinciding with his planter’s assignment he was invited to take charge of two sports teams, cricket and football, at his alma mater by the late Warden Neville de Alwis and the then Sub-Warden Rev. Duleep de Chickera (who went on to become the Bishop of Colombo).
Dinesh speaking to the Daily Mirror said that the background of the request stemmed from his career as a sportsman at the school.
“I played five sports at college, namely cricket, hockey, volleyball, athletics and football, in which I captained in the 1986/87 season. This was a request which I could not refuse and I had to bid good bye to the planting sector which I don’t regret at all,” he said.
Offered the position of a junior national academy coach in Malaysia, Dinesh left S. Thomas’ in 2002. During that overseas coaching stint, he was also the junior national coach of Malaysia and in between had the proud record of guiding the Malaysian senior team in a Tri-Nation tournament. When he came back in 2013, he was again offered the coaching job at S. Thomas’ cricket team.
“Professor Indra de Soysa, who was the warden during this period, was the live-wire and had the utmost confidence in me, due to my record during my first stint of coaching at S. Thomas’. I am grateful to him for giving the second opportunity which has continued since then for nearly ten years,” Dinesh recalled.
Later Dinesh was instrumental in forming the Old Thomians CC which was started with the aim of encouraging youngsters and to give them an opportunity to continue their cricket after leaving school. This turned out to be a success as in the maiden tournament they participated in they won the All Island and Western Province titles which earned them a promotion to Division Two (Donovan Andree Trophy).
“Our aim is to bag the Donavan Andree trophy and then the Sara Trophy and to elevate ourselves to play in the Division One category tournaments,” he added.
Dinesh is a qualified Level I, II and III coach having followed a course in Melbourne, Australia which was supported first by old boy late Vijitha Fernando, former secretary STC OBA, and then by S. Thomas’ College.
In conclusion Dinesh was optimistic for his future, but also grateful and thankful to the people involved in him reaching this position tomorrow.
“I need to thank Kumar Boralessa, who has been my mentor in cricket, along with the advisory committee Michael Tissera, Damitha Perera, Sajith Kularatne, Dr. Stefan Anthonisz, Mahinda Halangoda, Jerome Jayaratne, Kapila Wijegoonewardena, sports council members Avindra de Silva, Roshan Tissarachchi, Dhammika Jayasuriya and Gihan Perera and members of OTCC committee Janesh Ratnadasa,, Nilanka Peiris, Anura Bulankulame, Ravin Perera, Nishan Fernando, Nigel Adams, Nuwan Peiris, Kenneth Senaratne, Lalindra Peiris, Sachintha Jayatileke and Sanesh de Mel and the present warden Rev. Marc Billimoria, who has been a tower of strength to me, supporting and encouraged me at every given opportunity,” Dinesh said. By M. Shamil Amit
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