Jaswar wants to ‘revive’ Sri Lankan football in the digital age | Print edition
By Allaam Ousman
FSL Secretary General is preparing to take the reins of power in the June 7 elections
Royal College, Colombo is not renowned for producing soccer stars, but Jaswar Umar who took the whistle while playing in school and became an international match commissioner, came up with a vision to make Sri Lanka a “football nation in South Asia”.
An accomplished football administrator, pioneer of Sri Lanka’s very first semi-professional Super League, Jaswar presents himself as someone who comes from a humble background and has the ability to provide dynamic leadership to resuscitate football in the country.
Originally from the east of the country but having moved to Colombo since his father was Director of Education in the Ministry of Education, Jaswar seized the opportunity to improve his knowledge and is well prepared to assume the reins of power. to implement its ideals.
He is seeking the mandate of the footballing community made up of 64 leagues in the country, which translates to 186 voting members in the election of members of the Sri Lanka Football Bureau (FSL) on June 7.
Jaswar claims to feel the pulse of the people and aspires to the top job frustrated with efforts to do something concrete for the development of the sport as general secretary of the FLS.
Officially unveiling his ‘Restart Football’ manifesto days before FSL elections which have been repeatedly postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jaswar Umar sometimes walks a thin line between a politician and a sports administrator .
“Football in Sri Lanka is considered the game of the poor and yet it made some rich when the game suffered,” he said at the outset at a press conference.
He also declared victory over his rival Dr Manil Fernando, boldly asserting that he was guaranteed to get 115 votes giving him a majority of over 40. He rejected Dr Fernando’s “Football 1st” manifesto, which heads the FSL medical commission, as “unrealistic”. “I don’t see anything lasting and concrete. To be no. 1 in South Asia is an unrealistic target that examines our strengths and weaknesses as a country, ”he said.
Jaswar denied being thirsty for power like most officials, saying he was on a mission to reform the administration of football in the country.
“I am not hungry for power. Everyone has the right to choose their own destiny. Very rarely you get a person in football with diplomas, experience as a player, referee, match commissioner and knowledge of Sri Lanka law. When God gave me this ability, if I don’t use it for the betterment of my country, it becomes a waste. I become a model, ”he said in an interview with the Sunday Times.
“I will serve the country. For that, I need this position (chairman), ”said Jaswar, who has worked at blue-chip companies in Sri Lanka such as John Keells Holdings and Softlogic Group.
Explaining his mission and vision, he said: “I aim to build a football nation with a football culture. We have all the components of football in one form or another. I want to use football as a social tool for the betterment of society by integrating communities and creating healthy citizens. “
“Football is a tool with which we can always connect and bring people together. I really want to use this to bring harmony and friendship through football, ”added Jaswar who is the football architect on Friday at the initiative of Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa.
“Friday football under my leadership will go to all districts and villages, east and south, where there are wonderful beaches,” said Jaswar who is a consultant to the owners of this CPSM (Ceylon Professional Sport Management).
“One of my brand positioning is when you say Friday, people should remember football in any form on the beach, in a small park or on the street. Friday is for football. It’s the culture and the attraction that I bring, ”said Jaswar, with an MBA in Management and Marketing from New Buckinghamshire, UK and a PhD in Talent Management (Reading).
He wants to create a Rs. 1 billion football economy in 12 years. “I am not dependent on funds from FIFA and the AFC but I have created a business model where from Rs 270 million, I will increase it in two years to Rs 400mn”, said Jaswar who played a entrepreneurial role with telecommunications, marketing, real estate and business consulting SMEs.
Explaining the need for administrative reforms, he wishes to ensure the separation of powers of governance, administration and judicial bodies. “Everyone does everything,” he says.
The Trust Fund and the new competition model are unique in its program.
“There are so many people who have done exceptional service to football, from national players to coaches. How we can reimburse is to take care of them when they need medical assistance, ”he said.
New competitions such as Super Cup, Division Three, Division Four, Division Five, LIGA one Schools (U-18), LIGA Two Schools (U-15), Women’s Premier League and a District Championship (U-20) will be introduced.
“I will create contests for each village, each neighborhood. Without competition, you can’t find potential talent, ”he said.
Digitization of all stakeholders will be carried out with the support of the FIFA Connect global registration system.
The first Sri Lankan to hold an executive football law degree from the Portugal Football School, Jaswar hopes to transform the Beddegana Football Complex into a fully equipped football school with foreign and local experts providing football education services. world class.
He also plans to build 50 mini-fields in five years.
Each regional league has been promised financial aid four times more than ever in history.
“In 2017, I pledged 300,000 to all the leagues I donated. It is reality. The need of the hour is this, not football first. You need rewards, recognition, appreciation, opportunities, etc. Maybe when we are tied with other nations we can tell who is first or second, ”he said, taking another blow to his rival.
However, he offered an olive branch to his detractors.
“I will invite anyone who can work, to work with me for the nation for the betterment of football. Manil is an expert in the medical field. I’m going to invite him to serve, but at the same time there are certain elements that we have to get rid of, ”said Jaswar, graduate in advanced sports management from the International Olympic Committee.
“I have a better structure than what they offered. A futuristic program adapted to our country, ”said Jaswar who created waves with his digital campaign.
Jaswar believes he has managed to bring football history back to the country during his campaign.
“Football is back with the masses. It proves that football can be branded, marketed, ”he said, adding that what they want to do is restart football where others have failed.
“We have a plan. We have a roadmap. We will not promise miracles. But we know where we want to go next year or the next year. We lost about 12 to 15 years in football. We have to jump into the modern era, ”said Jaswar, aware of the changes taking place in world football.
“The 2022 World Cup will be the last of 32 teams. Subsequently, it will be 48 teams, which means more opportunities for all confederations. Asia will get 8 slots from 4.5 now. This means more investment, more competition between countries. We need to prepare now. We have to see what the trend will be in 2023. We have to start planning it fundamentally. This is what I do because I am part of the system. I know what’s going on. I no longer need to learn from scratch, ”he summed up.