Malik Samarawickrema rugby promoter par excellence –
by Hafiz Marikar
Malik Samarawickrema has played a major role in promoting rugby in Kandy and Sri Lanka.
He, was educated at Royal College where he played rugger as a scrum half and after leaving school played for CR & FC, Low Country in the Capper Cup game against Up-Country and for the Sri Lanka Presidents XV.
During his playing days at Royal from 1966 to 1968.he made his Bradby Shield debut under the captaincy of Mousey Thurairatnam in the Second Leg in 1966 and went on to play for his school with distinction under Brian Lieversz in 1967 and under C.R. De Silva in 1968.
He played for Royal College as scrum half from 1966 to 1968 along with Jagath Fernando, H.C.P. Malwatte, A.J. Yusuf, Brian Lieversz, C.R. de Silva, Jeremy. Pereira, R.Thurairatnam, Brian Baptist M. Devkumar, N.M. Jaimon A.J., Yusuf, J. Jilla, L.A.I de Silva, F.R. Perera and Shahul Mohamed to name a few.
During his playing days was a nippy and daring scrum half who gathered the ball from the base and slung intelligent and well directed passes to his fly half who always was well positioned to get the line moving that resulted in an avalanche of tries for school, club and the country. His favourite playing club was CR & FC, some of his team mates were Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Ronnie Schokman, Jagath Fernando, Reggie Bartholomeusz, Kamal Ratnapala. He hung up his boots in 1977 and took up coaching, assisting CR & FC and his alma mater, Royal College.
Malik later played a key role in rugby promotion. Besides his prominent roles in promoting the game through numerous ways including lavish sponsorships, he has also served as coach and respected administrator.
He has made a praiseworthy contribution to the game, coaching Royal College and also was one time Sri Lanka rugby team manager, Sri Lanka Rugby Union Treasurer, He served as treasurer, Vice President and President. During his tenure as Sri Lanka’s rugby chief, he took every possible step to promote the game. For Kandy Sports Club the one and only outstation club in the game, the glory days came after Malik stepped in the year 1992. Malik’s lavish sponsorships enabled to set new standards by introducing the international sevens tournament over here in Kandy. The Singer-SriLankan Airlines International Rugby 7s, which gained IRB recognition, thus putting Sri Lanka as a most sought-after venue in the international rugby map.
Malik was a man who was able to prove that sport can do lot more than just that with it being about bringing people together.
He was able to use sport to build up friendship on and off the field. I can remember once he said rugby has the power to change people. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. He speaks to youth in a language they understand. He is someone who was able to take the stress away and make a player feel extremely comfortable.
He gave his best for rugby, helped several lesser-known players by inviting them to come and play for Kandy SC and also found them jobs.