‘Just Call me Dennis’, a biography of a living sports legend penned by Nilanga Jayawickrema, was launched at the Burgher Recreation Club amongst an august gathering. It was a memorable sight to see sports hallmarks of yesteryear gathered to reminisce the glory days. The book, a retrospective of hockey in Sri Lanka, is a first [...]

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‘Just Call me Dennis’ launched

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Dennis de Rosayro signing his biography for friends and family at the book launch held at the BRC

‘Just Call me Dennis’, a biography of a living sports legend penned by Nilanga Jayawickrema, was launched at the Burgher Recreation Club amongst an august gathering. It was a memorable sight to see sports hallmarks of yesteryear gathered to reminisce the glory days. The book, a retrospective of hockey in Sri Lanka, is a first of its kind in the hockey fraternity of Sri Lanka.

Dennis involvement with hockey spans six decades of playing the game at the highest level and administration of the sport with a straight bat. Gracing the occasion were special guests, double International, Chandra Shaffter, founder of Janashakthi group and Hemaka Amarasuriya, former Chairman of Singer Sri Lanka.

The day opened with a prayer of blessing and two minutes silence for sports friends and associates, which followed a welcome address by Dennis de Rosayro himself, thanking all his tutors, sports colleagues, mentors and associates who were part of the 60 years glory.

This was followed by the ‘Reading of the Book’ by Pastor Ramesh Schaffter.

Pastor Ramesh picked on some key highlights covering Dennis preschool and college days at St. Benedict’s where he shone as a sportsman showing his prowess for greater things to come and representing the Ceylon Hockey Team as a schoolboy. His first sports club the United Youngsters Hockey Club the first sports club in Kotehena in 1951 and then joining BRC in 1954 as a young robust lad rubbing shoulders with dons of the time and its story walking through the successes of the club in hockey.

Today Dennis serves as Patron of the BRC. Having joined Heath and Co. just after leaving school, commenced his association with Mercantile representing MHA in their first overseas tour in 1956. Mercantile Hockey Association (MHA) was formally inaugurated in 1957, Dennis with much dedication and hard work was elected President of MHA in 1978 and served as its President until 2007 transforming the institution into a robust and benchmark in the sporting annals of the country.

Now at the age of 83 he serves the MHA as a Honorary Life Member, continues to roll out his gems of advice to the younger generation. This period showed many youngsters representing Sri Lanka from the MHA, having won the national championship on eight occasions and runners-up six times at the National Hockey Championships and making it possible to compete in overseas tournaments seven times to give the young lads credible international exposure, during his Presidency. The book supported with many valuable pictures, is a master piece for hockey enthusiasts.

This was followed by Dennis presenting the first copies of the book to? those who supported him producing this legacy of a doyen.

Chandra Shaffter in his address recounted the early days of Ceylon Hockey and Dennis role in its progress while commending him as a solid and dependable player having held the Indian Olympic greats, the likes of Dayan Chand, Balbir Singh and Leslie Claudius when Ceylon played India and to his astounding gift as an immaculate administrator. Dennis attitude and approach were a motivation to him and to the Mercantile sector in supporting the progress of the sport in the country. Schaffter was a Vice Patron of the MHA.

Heamaka Amarasuriya, past Patron of MHA, in his address dwelled on the administrative prowess of Dennis. Drawing a parallel, mentioned that Dennis was also a good cricketer and had Dennis taken the route to cricket, today cricket administration would have been the benefactor and at a different level, however would have been a loss to hockey. Dennis placed institution first before self and was a strong disciplinarian, hall marks of great administrators. He wished for MHA to have its own premises, an opportunity to place all the valuable photographs, that is in the custody of Dennis collected over the years as a motivation for the next hockey stars of the country.

Messages by the Vice Patron MHA, Deva Ellapola, President BRC, Lasith Nanayakara and distinguished Old Boy, Felix Dias of St. Benedict’s College, were delivered in respect of the great work by Dennis to Sri Lanka sport. The legacy of a legend.

A token of gratitude was presented to Helene De Rosayro by the MHA. The citation for the presentation was made by Vice President MHA, Ajith de Silva, the of COO Automotive and Hardware Browns Group, concluding that behind every successful man is a woman. The token was presented by Vice Patron MHA, Taraka Ranwala, Senior DGM Operations of Sampath Bank and Hony. Secretary MHA, Asif Bari, Director SRB Logistics. The programme was hosted by Savithri Rodrigo.

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