With a vision of competing at the 2022 Asian Games and the 2024 Olympic games, current deputy president of Sri Lanka Rugby announced his intent to contest for the top chair of Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) for the years 2020, 2021.
A former player, Illyas has been closely knit with the rugby fraternity, playing an active role in the country’s rugby arena as an administrator. Over the years, Illyas has acted as secretary for the SLR and is currently deputy president.
Forwarding his candidacy for the presidency, Illyas has shifted his focus to the national sevens format where he intends to take the country to a medal at the Asian Games in 2022 while focusing on qualifying for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“My short term vision as President is to focus on sevens rugby. This vision is to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris and to win a medal at the Asian Games in 2022. SLR has a very good opportunity to win a Silver/Bronze if we plan and prepare accordingly. We were fourth at both the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games and lost by just 2 points in both matches to South Korea and Japan.”
In a bid to aid the development of the sevens game, Illyas has suggested shortening the existing fifteens tournament to half its duration and adding a domestic sevens series.
“After a shortened Interclub tournament, there would be a series of sevens tournaments, after which a full time squad would be selected. This squad would be under a professional setup under the qualified head of High-Performance managers and world-class trainers with the focus on the Asian Games” he added.
Sri Lanka was pushed back from their 3rd place position in 2017 after their dismal performance in the sevens circuit in the last two years while the Sri Lankan women have dropped two more places to settle at 7th place in Asia.
Both these are two options that Illyas expects to improve with the sport making it to the Olympics.
“Only CR & FC from the clubs has a Women’s team. I hope to encourage and support other A division cubs to form Women’s teams and support all of them financially to participate in a tournament and create a credible competition.”
Other suggestions from the candidacy statement are as follows:
- Play division A club games under lights to encourage fans and aid CR & FC to set up floodlights
- Establishing a provincial training unit for learning
- Make Sri Lanka host country for key 15’s and 7’s events
The top chair of SLR is the country’s highest position in the sport and is based on a vote from the regional unions.
The Sri Lanka Rugby AGM will take place on the 29th of August 2020.