The recent FUTURO III Administration and Management Course in Kalutara, conducted by FIFA through its development office in Colombo, certainly aided its progress following 30 years of war. It drew administrators from all over Sri Lanka, who shared their knowledge and gained insight into organising professional leagues and developing football within their respective regions.
"I am very happy as we gained a great deal from this course," said Rahula Siriwardena, the president of the Kalutara Football League. "It was a refresher course and the new subjects like club management, human resources and finance planning were real eye-openers for all the participants. As a participant, I express my sincere gratitude to the FIFA development office and to FIFA for a very effective and beneficial course. It is now our responsibility to put what we have learned into practice."
The official opening ceremony kicked off in true Sri Lankan style, with guests lighting the flower-decorated oil lamp. Member of Parliament, Hon. Lakshman Wijemanna, thanked FIFA for allowing Sri Lankan football officials to learn from FIFA instructors, a sentiment shared by Hurley Silveira, president of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL), who urged attendees to make the most of the opportunity.
His FFSL colleague, Sepala Perera, added: "This is a very beneficial programme for the league administrators, not only to use what they've learnt here to help the development of their respective leagues, but also to filter it down to the clubs that are affiliated to them."
The participants were also afforded the opportunity to do presentations on individual case-studies, in which they outlined the difficulties they face. After listening to these speeches, FIFA instructor Petr Fousek was able to offer expert advice, which was eagerly received.
"Football in Sri Lanka is in safe hands, with the enthusiasm and commitment of the regional administrators," said Fousek. "I'm pleased with their active participation and I'm confident they have gathered knowledge that will enhance their capacity to develop the game here."
There were several positives to take from the seminar. S. Anthonypillai, president of the Jaffna Football League, was excited by the prospect of introducing a plan to help deal with post-conflict mental stress and develop grassroots football. Rahula Siriwardena, president of the Kalutara Football League, believes he and his counterparts can use what they learnt regarding marketing to make clubs self-financed.
There is no doubt that Sri Lankan football suffered greatly during 30 years of war. There is equally no doubt that it gained substantially from the six-day FUTURO III Administration and Management Course. A bright future appears on the horizon.