For those of us who grew up with him and his family in Kandy, the story begins at Castle Street where his friends would visit the Jainudeen household often, ostensibly to keep Shafi company but in reality to admire-or “cap” as we colloquially called the exploit- his beautiful sisters Merl and Mazaya.
Papa M.S. Jainudeen was the live-wire of Soccer and its development in the Central Province.
His house-nay home-was the base for all things soccer, as budding soccerites from in and around Kandy would line up to gain from the benevolence of the soccer promoter. This was where Shafi was inducted to the art of caring for others. And he practiced this fervently.
The family home was open to Shafi’s closest friends, such as Mark Sunderalingam, Gogi Tillekeratne and Alex Lazarus on a 7x 24 basis as was the account for refreshments after practices at the Green Cabin-until of course credit limits were shattered! And in an act of generous forgiveness, Mama Sithy Marliya, the Jainudeen Mum, would place the home kitchen at their disposal.
Papa Jainudeen the soccer enthusiast was fixated on making Shafi a solid ruggerite, especially to finesse his kicking skills. He would take Shafi to Asgiriya get him to kick the ball onto the terraces and then on the rebound to kick it back using his left and right feet alternatively, This would go on until Shafi would collapse from exhaustion ! When the art was mastered to his father’s satisfaction, the prize came in the form of the much sought after Addidas Boots.
A similar technique was employed by Coach Denzil Kobbekaduwe as he coached the Trinity side in 1967-1969.
Flags would be planted at various points in the field and Shafi would be asked to kick from those points using the left and right foot alternatively.
The drill would go on for a full 45 minutes after regular practice. It was those techniques, Shafi would acknowledge, that gave him the skill and the confidence to be the gifted kicker. But being a full back was just one facet of the total Ruggerite that Shafi was.
Ajith Abeyratne under whom Shafi played as vice captain recalls that he had two brilliant kickers in the side-Alex Lazarus and Shafi Jainudeen.
Such was the luxury that Ajith had that kicks would be decided on a first come first served basis! Alex and Shafi would make a scramble for the ball every time a goal or penalty kick had to be taken!
Shafi – marked man
When Royal and Trinity met in Peradeniya in 1968 with Ajith as Trinity Captain and ‘Bulla” CR de Silva as Royal Captain, there was one player who was a “marked man” given his track record over four seasons of Bradby matches. That man was Shafi.
The Royal game plan was to take Shafi out of the game with strategic ‘up ‘n unders’ and crash tackles to boot.
On one such instance, when Shafi was grounded someone, accidentally, kicked him on the head and Shafi was partially concussed which prompted Mama Marliya to run in from the touch line and ask “who kicked my son on the head?!”
In later life, Shafi would ask Bulla, Malik Samarawickreme and Gehan de Silva each, the same question “who kicked me?!” and Bulla would point at Malik and Malik would point at Gehan and the round robin would continue to the amusement of everyone.
Shafi said to your columnist. I thought of suing Bulla for brutality when he was Attorney General, but then I found out that my claim would have been ‘statue barred.’ So Bulla was given a reprieve!
But it was in 1969 when Shafi captained Trinity at the Bradby that he was in his element. In the previous year ‘The Bulla Team’ had bullied Trinity to 19/0 win; and in the return again, to a 5/3 win. Smarting over this loss it was Shafi’s turn to avenge defeat. And this he accomplished with a 8/0 win in Peradeniya and a 9/3 win in Colombo.
Jainudeen’s efforts hailed
His performance in Colombo compelled T.M.K. Samath – the leading writer of the Ceylon Observer to go into raptures that captured the essence of this terrific captain. Here are excerpts: When the Trinity bus hits the high road to home this morning it will run on champagne. So it will seems as they take back the Bradby Shield to the Kandyan Hills…….Shafi Jainudeen, leadership plus-plus-pleading for calmness when the tide was against his team, and driving them through his own inspired efforts into attacking positions-it was he who fashioned this win for Trinity.
He lit the fighting sprits of his team, fired across two penalties-the first a beauty from thirty yards out and mid right and the second from front of the posts.
He also provided a gate of steel at full back position, beating back Royal’s kick ahead efforts with his safe-as-a- bag collection and ripping kicks. For him, this was the day of his life, fulfilling a year long ambition of taking back the Bradby Shield.
Star Trinity team
That star Trinity team under Shafi’s leadership comprised: Shafi, Fredrick Prins, Nihal Marambe, Sam Samarasekera, Romesh Nugawela, Irwin Howie & Tikiri Marambe, Y.S. Ping, Harinda “Boga” Gunasekera, Mohan Samarakoon, Russel Tennekoon, ASB Madawel, Izwan Omar and RG Panabokke. Cuda Wadugodapitya and Ralph Roberts played in the first leg.
If Bradby’s were memorable for Shafi, then club rugby was equally satisfying. In 1975, Captaining Havelocks against the CR&FC, there was a canard going around that like most full backs, Shafi would avoid tackling.
To counter this, and send a powerful message to the capacity crowd, Shafi dealt a bone crunching tackle to the 200 pound Sabaratnan that dazed not only Saba but stopped the CR team in their tracks! Then there was that instance when Shafi collected the ball in the Havies ’25 and then in a dazzling 70 yard run overcame the on coming attack of Didacus de Almeida, Indrajith Coomaraswamy, Gota Dissanayake and Ronnie Schockman. It was a shocking feat, indeed!
Many interesting stories
Many are the stories that one can recount from the picturesque canvass of Club rugby and Sri Lanka Rugby that Shafi represented, but limitations of space does not do justice to the colourful career. One will leave that to another occasion.
Speaking with him several weeks back as he recounted some of his stories with an abundance of entertainment, it was evident that he had come to terms with his ailments but that he would give it his best fight.
This he did gallantly as he did with his sports, his professional career in Shipping and Logistics and indeed in anything that he undertook including service to the community.
More importantly he spoke of the deep and abiding faith and values that his parents had passed onto him and his belief in his Creator Allah.
As he meets his Creator the recognition that: we come from Him and to Him do we return will, one prays, will give Shafi the comfort of eternal bliss in the abode of our Creator.
Shafi Jainudeen was laid to rest on the 15th of June, 2012. The night before the 1st leg of the 68th Bradby Shield.
Article Written by Mohamed Muhsin
Published 5 years ago by Mohamed Muhsin