Kabaddi: SLKF chief resigns over Asian Games poor show

Monday, 10 September 2018 Sport

In the midst of Sri Lanka's overall dismal outcome as a country, the President of Sri Lanka Kabaddi Federation (SLKF), Anura Pathirana resigned from his position taking whole responsibility to the kabaddi teams' failures at the concluded 18th Asian Games held in Indonesia. 

Pathirana tendered his resignation during the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia on August 21 by handing over copies of his resignation letter to the Director General and Secretary of the Ministry of Sports and the Project Officer of Kabaddi. 

He has also copied the letter to the General Secretary of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka, Secretary of SLKF and Director of Sports Associations Unit. 

Pathirana, a former national player, was elected as President of SLKF in February 2018 and during his tenure of seven months has made fullest attempts to reform the sport. 

He spearheaded to make the initiative of bringing down an expert coach from India to prepare the Men's and Women's teams for the 18th Asian Games, while giving training opportunities to local players, officials and coaches through various programmes. 

"Despite spending Rs. 15 million alone in preparing the teams for the Asian Games, nothing paid off. We had the potential of winning medals in both segments, but those who are responsible in managing the teams failed the country. Yet, they are not even bothered of the opportunities missed, so as the President of SLKF, I explained matters in a letter and resigned, taking the fullest for the teams' dismal show," Pathirana said. 

In his letter of resignation Pathirana explains that the losses incurred at the Asian Games were not a disgrace for a country alone, but for himself as a former player and a responsible administrator. 

"I yet have over three years to complete my tenure as the President of the SLKF, but I feel I'm not qualified enough to hold the position after what occurred in Indonesia. The World Championship and the South Asian Games are two of the international events we could score on and I am of the view that someone with a more effective and wider vision take over and work for the goal of winning title," Pathirana goes on to say in the letter. 

However upon research it is revealed that Pathirana's resignation comes mainly due to ethical issues. 

After studying the outcomes from the Asian Games, Sri Lanka obviously had misused the chances of winning two possible medals, at least the bronze mainly due to unprofessional conduct by the coaches. 

Sri Lanka played four games in group 'A' and won only against Thailand (46-29) while losing to India (28-44), Bangladesh (25-29) and South Korea (22-32). 

Overall Sri Lanka finished joint seventh with Japan, and behind Iran, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. 

Countries that were lower than the Lankans were Nepal, Thailand and Malaysia. 

The Women's team finished overall joint fifth with South Korea, behind Iran, India, Chinese Taipei and Thailand. 

Bangladesh, Indonesia and Japan were behind Sri Lanka. 

Competing under Group 'A' Sri Lanka beat minnows Indonesia (34-17) and Japan (43-12) but lost handsomely to Thailand (15-41) and India (12-38). 

"The SLKF spent millions, training these players for over five months, preparing them for the competition with hopes of winning medals. But The coaches of the two teams have not done their bit with good intentions. They are now getting ready for the remaining two international events in Dubai and Nepal. They do not possess a sense of responsibility for the failures and if they are not fit enough to step down, at least I should," an angry Pathirana said. 

Pathirana, who heads the Kurunegala District Kabaddi Association, was approached by the fraternity eight months ago to contest for the position of President of SLKF, as the administrators who ran the show then had misused all the privileges and facilities to entertain a set of chosen individuals, who were apparently outsiders. 

According to information, the then head of SLKF, a politician, had sent his close allies on official and overseas tours, and had done very little to uplift the sport. 

"They all came to me and said Kabaddi is not a sport that deserves to be at this stage, and we should get together to change it. As a former national player I too had that frustration and so I took the lead and won. As the President of SLKF, I was able to gather all former national players and plan out a comprehensive development programme with the Executive Committee and other committees. But those who are in these committees started to follow the path the former administrators went on. Their target is overseas tours, and I do not see any progress if their intentions remain the same as the former set," he added. 

In addition the four coaches -- two head coaches and two assistant coaches -- of the national teams have not followed the guidelines set in coaching and selecting players. 

The head coach and assistant coach of the Women's team have even take a player or more with injuries for the Asian Games, bypassing the SLKF administrators, giving false endurance reports on players. 

As a result, Pathirana added Sri Lanka missed a possible bronze medal. 

"These coaches were responsible for degrading Sri Lanka's silver medal to a bronze at the South Asian Games in 2016 and they did the same at the Asian Games by missing a potential bronze medal. The same happened with the Men's team." 

However on September 2, the Executive Committee of SLKF had met at a Special General Meeting and had unanimously decided not to accept Pathirana's resignation letter. 

A letter signed by the General Secretary of SLKF, Captain S.S. Meegahatenna states that members representing all District Associations have unanimously declined to accept the resignation letter. 

The letter goes on to say that Pathirana should continue to complete his tenure as the President of SLKF, for the betterment of the spot and its players. 

It is also said that the Executive Committee had decided to commence an investigation on the four national coaches on their conduct, mainly at the Asian Games, and the four are likely to be suspended or relieved off their appointments. 

"If the correct measures are being taken, I can consider in revoking my decision, but if I do not see anything positive happening, my decision is final and it will remain the same. I'm concerned about the sport, not individuals. If they do the correct thing for the sport that's it, or else I still consider myself a failure."

Kabaddi: SLKF chief resigns over Asian Games poor show