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Old 17-03-17, 10:32 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Dinethra Ashane Francis

Keeping afloat

Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 01:00

Ruwini JAYAWARDANA


The stakes are high, and failure comes easily. Known as a phenomenal sport water polo is fast moving and complicated. The fact that world-class water polo players have to train hard to keep themselves afloat for indefinite amounts of time highlights their dedication to fitness, as well as points out the difficulty of the sport right off the bat.

Dinethra Ashane Francis has taken on this challenge and managed to overcome the odds. Not only is he honoured with the title of Most Promising Water Polo Player 2016 but he is also the Captain of the Sri Lanka Junior Men’s Water Polo team 2016 and Captain of the College Senior Water Polo team 2016. A student of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, Ashane was appointed as the College Head Prefect 2016-2017. He is also the first recipient of the Bishop James Chapman Medal of Honour for having exemplified and demonstrated the values of faith, courage, service above self, loyalty, and integrity and thereby fulfilling the founders vision. He was awarded the Victoria Gold Medal for the Best All Round Student in 2016 and The Admiral H.A.Silva Challenge Trophy for the best All Round Student In Academics and Sport during the same year.

His talent for swimming has spawned in taking up water polo in 2009.

“I took up swimming in 2004 when I was six years old. Soon my interest turned towards water polo. It is an important sport at S. Thomas’ College. It is different to other sports. It is a team sport and one of the toughest sports in the world. Those aspects captivated me,” Ashane expressed.

He notes that water polo is similar to football. The difference lies in the fact that it is played in the water. Players need to catch the ball with one hand. All the players need to be able to propel themselves out of the water without their feet touching the ground. Touching the bottom of the pool isn’t allowed at any time.

There are 13 players in a team but seven play during a session. You can substitute the players when needed.

Aside from water polo being a sport in which the players never get to rest while they’re in the game, there are other aspects of the sport that make it so challenging. The game is extremely physical between the players, making it an intensely demanding sport for the duration of the game.

“It is a very aggressive sport. You need to be strong mentally as well as physically. You need stamina, discipline and the ability to work hard,” Ashane spelled out the key to becoming a good water polo player.

Becoming a champion in the pool requires any player to pay his or her physical dues. There is no shortcut to reaching your goals. You have to work hard, build muscle strength, improve your quickness, increase endurance and hone the technique required to play this game at a high level. Apart from a pool you need two goals of equal length and head gear to play the game.

“The ability to become a water polo player starts off with being a good swimmer. We have a swimming session from 5 to 7 am. Our water polo practices are from 6 to 8.30 pm. Water polo training is done under the lights,” Ashane said adding that he is one of the few players who had won four Royal Thomians matches in a row.

His first international tour has been for swimming in 2011 where he won a silver medal at the Inaugural Karntaka Sri Lanka Dual Meet in India. He has toured countries like Singapore, Bangkok and India.

“We played against the Japanese team in 2013. That was the strongest team. I managed to score a goal against them. That was a very memorable experience because that itself was considered as a triumph indeed,” he recalled with a smile.

He notes that the sport is very popular in Europe and USA. It is the oldest team sports in the Olympics.

Queried on what he enjoys most about playing water polo and Ashane quips that it is the fact that the sport offers a totally different experience which cannot be found in other type of sport.

“It really bonds the team together. We get to know each other a lot. It is not an individual sport like badminton or athletics. Everything depends on team spirit. You need to act as one to succeed,” he mused.

Besides water polo Ashane is also into community service activities. He was the leader of the Student Christian Movement which visited the Children’s Home for the differently abled children. He has taken part in the dengue awareness campaign several times. He took part in ‘Trail 2016’ the walk which aimed at building a cancer treatment center in the Karapitiya.

“I am a strong Roman Catholic. I believe in my faith and I believe I am here because of Jesus Christ and my religion. It is always nice to help the needy. The members of the Student Christian Movement have visited children’s and elder’s homes. We did our bit to help them out. It feels good when you know you are helping another needy soul,” Ashane explained.

Ashane also enjoys Tap Rugby with his friends. He preaches at the College Chapel Services. His father, Manoj Francis, is a businessman. His mother, Sonali Francis, is a housewife. His brother, Dineth Francis, is engaged in higher studies abroad.

Ashane notes that being the Head Boy of S. Thomas’ College is a great privilege. However it is no walk in the park because constant activities keep him engaged.

“This is an opportunity I got to be a true leader. Since I got this post I have not taken it lightly. I knew that this is something which can be used to give something back to my school. I had my G C E Advanced Levels coming up the year that I was appointed. It was difficult to balance my duties and my studies. However I treasure every moment of it. My main chore was leading the student body. However I managed to balance my duties, sport as well as my studies and come through all with flying colours,” Ashane noted adding that he has gotten three As and one B in the Commerce stream.

His goal is to become an entrepreneur.

He has been awarded a full scholarship to study the certificate in Human Resource Management at the Human Resource Management Institute. Ashane says that he does not think far in advance and plan his activities because he believes that God will open opportunities for him.

“Do whatever that makes you happy because if you chase behind money and wealthy items you will miss out on enjoying life. My advice to young leaders is that life is not always easy.

Balance your ups and downs in life. You need to be strong even if you encounter positive or negative experiences. Keep moving forward because life is full of experiences and opportunities,” he concluded.



Pictures by Sarath Peiries

With his parents
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