A banner on display along the fence near the Kingswood main gate felicitates Kingswood’s First XV skipper of 2012 for his enviable A/L results. Uwin Ariyaratne, who captained Kingswood in that season of mixed fortunes, obtained 3 A’s in the Commerce Stream and notched a top ranking in the district coming 11th overall.
As we know 2013 was a below par year for Kingswood’s A/L results. Except for a few noteworthy top notches our results in all four streams — as a whole — remain not too satisfactory. Like in rugby in 2012, Uwin had once again salvaged some respectability to Kingswood’s report card — this time around, in the academic front.
Uwin Ariyaratne had his primary and secondary junior education at Vidyartha College, Kandy. Up to this day, there are teachers and students alike at Vidyartha who lament Uwin’s late crossover to Kingswood. A teacher from Vidyartha with whom I had the opportunity of speaking spoke fondly of Uwin who has been known at Vidyartha for his regularity; be it sports or studies. So, when we uphold Uwin’s achievements and share the joy of his success, we must also acknowledge the role played by Uwin’s former school and its teachers, for laying a firm foundation for Uwin to stand on.
Kingswood’s felicitating Uwin Ariyaratne is commendable. Anyone who followed the 2012 rugby season would not hesitate to admit that Kingswood’s rugby team was more sinking than sailing that season and that Uwin’s contribution as a leader and player was one of the few things we could relate to with pride. The game plan of Kingswood in 2012 seemed to be relatively straightforward: get the ball off the scrum and pass it to Uwin. When Kingswood is ready to acknowledge the great services of this gentleman who joined the folks at Randles Hill for his senior years, we are reminded of another incident from not too long ago: the case of Saliya Kumara.
Saliya — who later on excelled for Kandy Sports Club and Sri Lanka in rugby — was no different from Uwin, when he joined Trinity in his senior college years and was instrumental in stalling a series of rugby disasters that eminent school faced between 2000 and 2002. Saliya, in a word, single-handedly changed the Bradby fortunes of a team that had stuttered to hold its heads up — a fate not very different from Ol’ Kingswood’s in 2012. With Saliya Kumara’s antics being the backbone of a gallant Trinity showpiece — which climaxed with the Bradby –, we learn that that some old boys and influential parties had a dilemma of awarding Saliya the most covetous prize the school offers for sports. The unfortunate dilemma, we are told, was caused by Saliya’s being a member of that school but for 2 years. The reception of Uwin Ariyaratne, by all means, is much appreciated and applauded.
The banner which I cited at the beginning of the essay, however, raises two questions which I want to lay out. Primarily, the ones who have exhibited the banner identify themselves as the “Kingswood Rugby Family”. It may well be true that Uwin’s exploits at Kingswood are related to rugby and that the school’s rugby team/s took an initiative in articulating the congratulations under study. But, given the fact that that banner is also meant to represent the school as a whole it would have been more refined had the rest of the school, too, had been included in the acknowledgement of Uwin’s achievement. Uwin’s membership in the “Rugby Family” is undisputed, but that family is a part of other such families that comes under the larger homely umbrella of Kingswood.
Secondly, the banner — rather than being a humble tribute to a fellow that has risen to the occasion — attempts at pomposity, highlighting that Uwin the achiever is ALSO the rugby captain of 2012. This, we feel, is not necessary. This, we feel, gives way to a series of unnecessary questions, too:
1) Is Uwin felicitated thus because he ALSO played rugby (or, had Uwin not played rugby but only concentrated on his studies and received the same result, would he not be appreciated)?
2) Does the emphasis on Uwin’s twin achievement a means of directly / indirectly dismissing the “popular myth” that rugby players don’t get good results (and thereby employing Uwin’s achievement as a tool to gain mileage for the sport)?
3) Is the maxim on “leadership” that appears at the bottom of the banner necessary? Is it suggested that “leadership” has a necessary connection with playing rugby and / or in getting top results?
We felt that a different slant of the wording could have saved ambiguity and presented a clearer case.
The number of banners along the Kingswood fence also indicates that the brief digital age initiated by the last months of the Chandrasekara tenure has found a short circuit. Principal Chandrasekara had a digital notice board installed upfront where the “notices” and “hellos” to the outside world were run on. This board now seems to have gone out of use and banners and notices are back on the front fence. The motives of putting these banners, no doubt, are noble. But, if one limits these displays to the noblest of motives — like, for instance, in congratulating Uwin’s current achievement — it would definitely help the school’s integrity as a dignified institute and a solemn entity.