St.Xavier’s College; the rise to Schools Volleyball stardom

  • St.Xavier's College Marawila - U13 Champions (2017 DSI Supersport Schools Volleyball Championship)

In the year 2010, Volleyball was inaugurated in a school situated in the district of Puttalam; which was no stranger to the Volleyball arena of Sri Lanka with a plethora of achievements in the field. The school was St. Xavier’s College, Marawila.

Galigamuwa Central & St. Xavier’s DSI Volleyball U17 champions

Galigamuwa Central College and St. Xavier’s College, Marawila won…

Within just 7 years of stepping in to the sport, the St.Xavier’s have been able to become a revolutionary force in the Schools Volleyball arena, decorating their school with a pile of trophies.

The birth of St. Xavier’s College goes way back to the days of the 2nd World War. However, later in the year 1962, it became a fully government-controlled school. And the introduction of Volleyball to the school takes place 48 years after that.

“It was a very difficult task. We didn’t have any place in school that was suitable to play Volleyball. The only thing we had was the dedication and the commitment of the Principal of the College; Rev. Fr. Piyal Jayathilaka. And at that time, Volleyball became very popular in the district of Puttalam. Hence, even the boys at our school had the desire to engage in it. So, we started it in the year 2010 under minimum facilities,” the volleyball coach of St. Xavier’s College, Samansiri Senevirathne reminded on how they started volleyball in the school.

Samansiri Senevirathne himself is a product of Puttalam district, with him being an old boy of Dhammissara National College, Nattandiya. He represented the Sri Lanka National Volleyball team for 10 years from the year 1986 to 1995 while also representing plenty of national championship winning teams like Pugoda Textiles, Sri Lanka Police, National Transportation Board and The Ministry of Education. Further, he was adjudged the Best Player from 1988 to 1993 and as the Best Attacker in 1989.

Photos: U13 Finals – DSI Supersport Schools Volleyball Championship 2017

During the last three years of his stint in the national team which was from 1993 to 1995, he represented the Volleyball team of The Ministry of Education while also playing the role of its coach. Hence, he was no stranger to the field of coaching.

Later, the country lost his services for few years as he had to go to South Korea due to economic reasons. However, upon his return, he decided to make a comeback into the sport as a coach to share his experiences with the younger generations.

“I worked as a Physical Education teacher in my school, which is Dhammissara National College, Nattandiya. Then I was invited by the Principal of the St. Xavier’s College Rev. Fr. Piyal Jayathilaka to start Volleyball there. And at that time, Dhammissara College was already at a very good place in the Sri Lanka Schools’ Volleyball arena. And I had the desire to engage in something new. So, I accepted the invitation and came to St. Xavier’s College as its Volleyball coach,” Samansiri Senevirathne refreshed his memory on how he was appointed as the volleyball coach of St. Xavier’s College.

Uhana Thissapura & St.Xavier’s DSI Volleyball U15 champions

Uhana Thissapura Vidyalaya, Ampara and St.Xavier’s College, Marawila…

Within just 3 years of unfolding the sport, the lads from St. Xavier’s College gets a huge boost when they went on to claim their first major achievement, with their U15 team emerging as the runners-up of the All Island Schools’ Games Volleyball Championship 2013. To add to that, it was their first ever attempt in a schools’ volleyball tournament. And this was also a victory for the Puttalam district as it marked the upsurgence of another bunch of players within the district resulting in further strengthening their dominance in the sport in the school level.

Since then, they have been almost unstoppable slowly emerging as one of the most triumphant Volleyball schools in Sri Lanka. They became U15 champions and U17 runners-up in All Island Schools’ Games Volleyball Championship 2015, U14 runners-up and U16 champions in DSI Supersport Schools’ Volleyball Championship while also winning U15 and U17 champions in All Island Schools’ Games Volleyball Championship the same year.

Photos: U17 Finals – DSI Supersport Schools Volleyball Championship 2017

However, this year marked a remarkable year for the school as they went on to make history by clinching the championships of U13, U15 as well as the U17 age groups at the DSI Supersport Schools’ Volleyball Championship 2017 and also the championships of U16 and U18 age groups at the All Island Schools’ Games Volleyball Championship 2017.

In the finals of the U13 and U15 age groups of the DSI Supersport Schools’ Volleyball Championship 2017, the teams from St. Xavier’s College defeated teams from Rajasinghe Central College, Ruwanwella to seize the titles while their U17 team won the championship by thrashing Hungama Vijayaba National College in the finals.

And in the finals of the All Island Schools’ Games Volleyball Championship 2017, their U16 and U18 teams grabbed the championships trouncing St. Joseph Vaz College, Wennappuwa and Rajasinghe Central College, Ruwanwella respectively. The latter was another historic accomplishment as they became the first school in history to claim both the U16 and U18 championships of the All Island Schools’ Games Volleyball Championship for two consecutive years.

“This journey was a very tough one. We have never played, taking players from teams of other schools. All the players in teams are students of our school from grade 6. We have a squad of about 60 players for different age groups. They do practices 4 days a week from 6.00 to 7.25 in the morning. We use morning practices as the players have tuition classes in the evenings.

Even the parents don’t like to send their children for practices if they miss classes. So even they don’t have an objection towards morning practices. And they provide the players with their breakfast after practices. And it’s a nutritious meal. And they’ve stood by us during our difficult times. So the service done by these parents are definitely admirable,” Senevirathne said, admiring the contribution of the parents of the players towards the sport.

He didn’t forget to mention the leadership of the principal of St. Xavier’s College Rev. Fr. Piyal Jayathilaka towards the upliftment of Volleyball in the school.

“We can do everything in terms of practices. But we wouldn’t have been able to come this far if not for the support and the guidance of Rev. Fr. Piyal Jayathilaka. And also I must remind the assistant coach Mr. Regan Reggie and the master in-charge Mr. Dhaminda Jayawardane. Their support and contribution has helped me a lot. And also the parents: they are definitely the ones behind our success.”

What they’ve achieved in such a short span of time, at the end of the day will undoubtedly prove to be a key factor for the success of the national team in the near future. Milinda Nirmal, Samith Muditha and Navod Kaushalya who were crowned as the Best Player, Best Attacker and Best Setter respectively in the U17 age group of the DSI Supersport Schools’ Volleyball Championship plus the likes of Malinda Nirmal and Dhanushka Nirmal will become a huge investment for the National Volleyball team in what lies ahead.

Photos: U15 Finals – DSI Supersport Schools Volleyball Championship 2017

However, it was stated that lack of games and the inaccuracy of the tournament calendar have gotten in the way of honing their skills. And they are expecting this to change as it will pave the way for them to extend their success even to the international level.

We, at wish them all the very best in their bid to attain glory in the time to come.

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