Badminton Life

Chaos Reigns in Sri Lanka Badminton

The badminton scene in Sri Lanka is in chaos with government intervention causing problems for the island's governing body for the sport.

Just nine months after the Sri Lanka Badminton Association (SLBA) hired a coach from Malaysia, a new administration installed by the government has sent him back home without pay for June and July.

Sri Lankan media report that the SLBA has been forced to be represented by an interim committee installed by Gamini Lokuge, the Minister of Sports in the country.

It is understood that Malaysian coach Sankar Annamalai has been dumped and sent home, minus two months pay.

Annamalai was the country's first foreign coach in 10 years and was to play a major role in raising the level of badminton in the cricket-mad nation.

Apart from coaching the national team, he also took care of the junior players and led a team of youngsters to the under-16 Asian Championships in Brunei.

His influence proved effective with the girls' doubles pair of Achini Ratnasiri and Lekha Shehani making it as far as the quarter-finals.

According to the Daily Mirror, Annamalai was also exploited by the interim committee, which made him work from as early as 5am to 6pm.

The previous administration, which comprised of elected officials, paid for his January and February salaries. After that, the chairman of the interim committee, Professor Ranjith Silva, reached into his own pocket to pay the coach's wages for March, April and May.

However, the committee is no longer in need of his services and, the report said, breached the contract he signed with SLBA by not giving him enough notice before his dismissal.

Other coaches have also been without pay for sometime and have resigned. Other major resignations are reported to be Secretary Mohan Wijesinghe, development chairman Princely Cook and chairman of junior development Sumith Guruge.

The appointment of interim committees in national sports governing bodies by the government is a dangerous situation for the sport in question.

It could lead to that country being banned from taking part in international events and even censure from the International Olympic Committee, which takes a serious view on government interference in the affairs of sports associations that have an elected administration.

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