In the aftermath of Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) landslide victory in the general election on Friday, country’s president Gotabaya’s nephew Namal Rajapaksa has emerged front runner to take up the Sports Ministry, Cricket Age exclusively learns.
Final results on Friday showed that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s SLPP — or Sri Lanka People’s Front — won 145 seats in the 225-member Parliament, just five seats short of a majority needed to carry out constitutional changes, without the support of smaller allied parties.
Contesting from Hambantota, Namal claimed top spot in preferential votes (166,660). Following Friday’s result, he was immediately tipped to be the next Sports Minister.
“He is young and passionate about all Sport, including Sri Lanka’s most beloved game cricket. He is an athlete and is the most deserving candidate to become the Sports Minister” a prominent figure and close ally of Rajapaksa’s in SLPP told Cricket Age.
Notably, Namal looks most suitable person to become the Sports Minister of Sri Lanka, purely because of his sporting history. A former national rugby player, Namal has always been passionate about Sport. A former member of parliament, Namal also posses insightful knowledge of Sri Lanka’s most cherished game – Cricket.
After too many tried and tested, old and passive Sports Ministers in last few years, Sri Lanka had, in 2019, seen the young and dynamic Harin Fernando at helm and experts in Sri Lanka are on the opinion that Namal, at 33, could also be the best person for the post.
For Namal also, the Sports Ministry portfolio will do wonders. It was believed that he has been groomed as a successor of his father Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sports Ministry will provide him the international exposure at such young age, that will be beneficial for him in longer term.
“He is mature enough to handle a responsible and glamours ministerial portfolio like Sports. It will give him an opportunity to involve at international level as well” one of his close associate told Cricket Age.
Also, Namal shares a good rapport with majority of Sri Lanka cricketers and has always been very supportive to them! Right now, Sri Lanka Cricket is blessed with plenty of young cricketers, who are ready to make their mark at international level. In this particular time, a Sports Minister like Namal Rajapaksa, with no outside influence or pressure, can surely do wonders for Sri Lanka cricket!
Namal played rugby for S. Thomas’ College representing the school in all age groups – under 9s, 13s, 15s and 17s. In 2000, he led the Sri Lanka national under 16 team. Namal first played for the school’s senior team in 2002 and captained the 1st XV team in 2005. He also led the Sri Lanka under 19 team in 2004. Then, he joined Cardiff University and played in the university’s rugby team from 2005 to 2006. He also played for City University London from 2006 to 2009. In 2009, he first played for the Navy SC, who he captained in 2010-11. In 2010, Namal was invited to play for the Sri Lanka national rugby union team and in 2013 was appointed the team’s captain, a position he retained until he retired from competitive rugby in July 2014.