KM De Lanerolle taken home by Gateway

Champ – Gateway;                         Runner Up – KGHS

Inter-House – Winchester.

Another year, another Lanerolle! The final was held last week of this annual debate competition, and Gateway College bagged the shield and the cup. The Lanerolle Memorial Cup and the Spencer Shield has now had a numerous “guardianship” over the last 4 years. From 2006-2010 it has passed hands from Girls’ High School, Kingswood, Maliyadeva to Gateway.

Like all contests of all times KM De Lanerolle 2010 had several lop sides as well. For one, 3 teams walking out of the competition at 2 crucial stages was sickening to witness. One of these teams, Maliyadeva, was the crown holders at the time — they had lost their first round debate to St Sylvester’s and decided to pull out of the contest. This was not seen as sporty. Even worse was Mahamaya’s pull out of the semi-final. Let’s sympathize with the Devans, cos they had just lost a debate and their emotions being a bit unsettled. But, what about the Mayans? Specially, after the dates of the semis had been also re-scheduled to facilitate them?

The writer is reminded of the Mahamaya College debate teams in the history of the contest in question – and the spirit with which they took to their game. The likes of Hiruni and Sanduni Wickramasinghe (2004-2005), Achini Samaranayake (2006) were not only hard fighting debaters, but were also immaculate with their PR in negotiating issues. To walk out of a semi-final of a contest is to undermine both the organizers as well as the audiences. It is generally not done.

Gateway Leader receiving the plum from the chief guest of the final, Dr. Kushantha Herat

At several points of the competition there were things said about the variation of judges. As much as I cannot comment on the choice of the judges in the different panels, I do stress that an “expanded panel” could have been used for the key semi-finals and finals. The organizers had done well to absorb into the contest some progressive individuals for the “judging game”. Among them, it was nice to see the likes of Danuka Bandara (Leader of SSCK, 2006), F. Thasneem Banu (Leader of KGHS, 2006), Marlon Ariyasinghe (Leader, KCK, 2006) and so forth. But, an expanded bench for the final 3 debates could have served a tradition which competitions of this nature preserves.

A word about Kingswood debating — the team fielded by Kingswood for this competition was both fresh and emerging. In my view, they showed promise, but could possibly be lacking a speaker somewhere. Throughout the contest they shuffled the order and tried experimenting within their own capacity; which was good to see. We look forward to them settling down to the “best fit” order with the best available speakers. It is understood that they have big shoes to fill. But, all shoes, at one time, were tots’ wear.

Where the Cup is till 2011

It would be ideal if the Kandy schools can go to the next step of having a debating ‘Trust’ and a kind of league, within which all schools take a hand at promoting the art; and having regular debates all year around. I remember this was part of a plan not too long ago — 2005 / 06. But, the environment was not right and the commitments were not too strong.

Congratulations to Gateway, Kandy — a deserving winner, after contesting the tournament in a most commendable spirit, upholding the best of attitudes and temperaments. Coming into the contest, Gateway’s best performance was their 3rd Place won in 2006 under Aarian Modder. So, Gateway, keep the cup and shield secure in your cabinet, cos the clock’s already started ticking. 2011 will be a whole new ball game. You’ll then be under added pressure, contesting as title-holders.

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