The Milestones of Hisham Abdeen; a name written in Gold

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A prolific flanker, an inspirational leader and a profound name in the sports community of Sri Lanka, Hisham Abdeen. As a schoolboy ‘Hisham’ was a name that most sports enthusiast spoke of, for the immense promise he showed in not one but four sports, Rugby, Soccer, Athletics and Cricket.

He started his sporting career at Zahira College Maradana as a footballer and later went on to represent the College Cricket, Rugby and Athletics teams as not just a member, but as a key asset of the respective teams.

Hisham was given the privilege of captaining the Zahira College football team in his last year at Zahira and followed it up by captaining the College Athletics team. Thus, Hisham Abdeen laid the perfect foundation towards a successful sporting journey right from his schooling days.

Hisham switched to Isipathana College in 1979 where he continued to follow his passion and love for sports as he represented the Isipathana Rugby, Football and Cricket teams. Stealing the spotlight all to himself in 1980, he made rare waves in the sport of rugby by scoring 25 tries during the School’s rugby season. Later that year, after his incredible performance, marking his first milestone – Hisham went on to represent Sri Lanka in the Sevens tournament as the first schoolboy ever to do so.

It wasn’t long till he became a household name in rugby. After donning the National jersey, he gained quick success especially in the Sevens circuit where he reached his peak in the early 80’s which eventually marked his second milestone. He was appointed Captain of the Sri Lanka Sevens team in 1984, where his leadership qualities came to the fore as Sri Lanka emerged winners of the Inaugural Bowls Trophy in the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens.

1987 Sevens Team – Pic Courtesy: Sunday Times
’84 Bowl Champion Team – Pic courtesy: Sunday Times

After tasting victory for the first time in a major international tournament, Hisham wanted more. He once again led Sri Lanka in 1986 at the same Hong-Kong Sevens where the team ended runners-up in the Bowl trophy. And a repeat of the ‘86 tournament was seen in the 1987 Hong-Kong Sevens as Sri Lanka emerged runners-up that year as well.

Abdeen Tackling Ruben Kruger – Pic courtesy: gettyimages

Because of his exceptional skills and consistency, he went on to represent the National XV’s team in 1980, 1982, 1986, 1987 and 1988 in the Asian Rugby tournaments held in Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and also toured Wales in 1987. He marked his third milestone of his rugby career when he followed up by skippering the Tuskers at the Asiad in 1988 and also the Dubai Sevens in the same year, later on in his career he went on to captain the President’s XV against Paris University at Westminster England on the tour of Wales in 1987.

At the domestic level, he represented Havelocks Sports Club from 1979 to 1988 where he captained them in 1983, and in 1990 he switched over to CH & FC till 1994, where he marked his fourth milestone as the winning captain in 1993 when CH & FC emerged triple Champions.

Abdeen Playing for Havelock SC in 1981 – Pic courtesy: Nations

After an illustrious career on the Rugby field, he turned to take up Coaching. First at Ananda College who won the all-Island U-17 rugby tournament in 2002 and were promoted to play in the A Division Segment of the Schools Rugby tournament in 2003 and ended up beating S. Thomas’ College the same year after a span of 15 years.

He stepped into coaching the big boys in 2001 and under his coaching Havelocks SC emerged winners in the A Division Sevens tournament, the U-24 XV’s tournament and the U-24 Sevens Tournament. He also coached Old Zahirians S.C. who emerged Bowl winners of the Sevens in 2004, Cup winners in the Western Province Tournament in 2005. Prior to this they were also U-21 Plate winners in the Western Province tournament. His next stint was with the Army General Service Corps who went on to claim the inter-unit title for the first time in 2004. His final year as a club coach was when he coached CR & FC who ended runners-up in the A Division tournament and the Sevens in 2007.

His crowning moment and fifth milestone came in 2000 when he was appointed as a National selector. He was also appointed the National Coach for the Sevens team in 2004 and the icing on the cake was when the Sri Lanka team were Plate champions in the I.R.B. International Sevens tournament in 2004. He handled the Women’s Rugby team from 2003 to 2008 and this team too responded magnificently when they went on to become Bowls Champions in the Singapore International Rugby Sevens in 2004.

At the end of his rugby career, Hisham Abdeen was globally recognized among many rugby fanatics. He earned much respect in Sri Lanka and will always have a special place in the rugby fraternity. He’s a quality player, coach and an amazing sportsman. His name will surely be etched in gold in the annals of Sri Lanka rugby history.