It is a regular occurrence in traditional interschool clashes that a school team that is stronger than their rivals one year find themselves relatively weaker the next.

Champion teams rarely last longer than a year in the schools circuit as their most experienced members are usually in their final year before becoming ineligible to represent their Alma Mater. This is the norm. As in every case, this norm has its exceptions and (happily for them) this applies to the 2015 Water Polo team of S. Thomas’ College as they prepare their bid to retain the Dr R.L Hayman Trophy for the third consecutive year.

The team from Mount Lavinia has not lost a single player from the outfit that won both legs of the traditional encounter last year to retain the coveted trophy. With ten coloursmen, and more talent from last year’s under 15 squad coming through to bolster their ranks, on paper the Thomians have only gotten stronger. The team has not had a real opportunity to prove that the strength on paper translates into the water however, as administrative issues in the water polo world has resulted in the Hayman being the first real fixture of the team’s season. This may end up being a further boon for the Thomians however, as the lack of changes in the teams ranks means that they already have over an years worth of experience playing together and develop chemistry whereas their opponents will have had far less time to gel, coming in with a more new look composition.

Players to watch out for

The team is led this year by Aqeel Sourjah, who is confident of his team’s ability to deliver, but wary of the dangers of not respecting the opposition in big games such as this. Sourjah will be martialing his troops from the Centre position, and is a good swimmer and one of the best defenders in the team, calling upon his experience representing Sri Lanka in the under 17 national team. If the opposition manages to get past him, they will then have the unenviable task of getting the ball past his deputy and goalkeeper of the team, Kosala Wijewardene. Wijewardene is one of the best goalkeepers in the country, and has represented Sri Lanka at the highest level. His value for the team was showcased at last year’s encounter, where he pulled off some exceptional saves.

The pair will also be able to call upon the expertise of last year’s captain Deelaka Weerarathne, a representative of the National under 21 team and who will remains in his favoured position of left bar. Weerarathne was one of the standout players in last year’s encounter and will be complimented by the tactical nous and skill of Ashane Francis, vice captain of the Under 17 National team.

Keshan Munasinghe and Isura Kahandawala add speed and potency from the wings, with both being very fast swimmers and good shooters, while being exceptional in defense. Munasinghe has represented Sri Lanka in the Under 21 team while his counterpart has played for the Under 17 one.

The team will have the not insignificant physical presence of prop Sachitha Jayathilake. Jayathilake also plays in the pack for the College First Fifteen Rugby team, and is feared by many teams that have to match up against him in the pool. Also a representative of the Under 17 National team, he will be an imposing presence to deal with, just two meters from the goal line.

S. Thomas’ College Water Polo Team:

Aqeel Sourjah (c), Kosala Wijewardene, Keshan Munasinghe, Deelaka Weerarathne, Ashane Francis, Sachitha Jayathilake, Duvinda Wijewardene, Shakya Gunatillake, Isura Kahandawala, Deshitha Hennayake, Sanaka Molligoda, Rahul Vithanage, Rahal Vithanage, Randev Jayasinha, Yasara Fonseka, Shanon Ebenezer, Piyal Perera