Cruncher on the Cards, If Weather Holds: Kingswood-Dharmaraja 111th Encounter

Kandy looks all set for a washout this weekend, with hit-and-run evening rains persisting all week, as Kingswood and Dharmaraja take a hike to Pallekele on the 17th and 18th – Friday and Saturday – to which has been their Big Match spot for the past seven years. If the Trinity-Anthonian last week is an indicator, the Man of the Match is set to be the weathercock; but, let us not be too cynical and pessimistic; as Cricket has always proven, and amply too, that it is an unpredictable game where bookies don’t operate.

Clearly, no bookie would dare operate too lightly, as Avishka Chandrasiri will lead the Kingswoodians against Deshan Gunasinghe’s Dharmaraja for the 111th time of the series that runs way back to 1893. There has been a lot of talk about “healthy rivalry” in an age of “enforced sportsmanship”, but Kingswood and Dharmaraja would love to resume business from where the party was left off last year, at this same venue; where Kingswood playing as a badly badgered underdog pulled out a sensational “first innings win” even after the media had earlier written them off as easy meat. To prove a point, they then staged one of the most scintillating run chases a Kingswood-Dharmaraja Limited Overs encounter had seen in the past 30 years, upsetting all cards in the game by snatching a last ball win against their fancied opponent.

When the two teams hit the deck tomorrow (17th), Gunasinghe’s Rajan XI will be playing to regain the tainted pride, and Kingswood will be padding themselves up to move from strength to strength on the foundation they had laid last year. The atmosphere off the field is equally energized, with boosted spectator interest and various parallel showcasing like customized profile picture engineers to “support your team”,  theme songs and such. The vehicle parade — something we on principle oppose and condemn — planned to coincide with the Limited Overs game will also add to the side-thrills of the game, for people interested in that kind of inconvenience.

Kingswood is returning into reasonable and competitive Cricket after 5 long years in the kitchen of Hell. Between 2011 and 2015, Kingswood Cricket had nothing to show but a pathetic Zimbabwean record, and was trounced by the Rajans in 4 out of 5 Big Matches. In fact, the Dharmaraja attitude was always too competitive and fierce for the Kingswoodians, who were intimidated at every level of the game. The Rajan game plan in every match they won was to put a score on the board by batting two sessions, and to get Kingswood out twice in the remaining four sessions of play. This plan succeeded, except once, indicating how feeble Kingswood was as an opposition. Ruwantha Hathurusinghe’s team last year, not only upset this script with which the Rajans entered the game, but also managed to hold their nerve to outwit their more stronger opponent on all 3 days of Cricket. Surely, coach Indika Fernando had done the right mental and attitudinal adjustments along with other matters of technique and skill.

The Kingswood-Rajan encounter is bandied as the “Battle of the Hill Country Maroons”, and it is also considered the oldest of Big Matches in the Hill Capital. In numbers, it is also considered by many as the third oldest of Big Matches, after the Roy-Tho, and the “Battle of Ruhuna”, between St. Thomas’ and St. Servatius’ Colleges, Matara. The series has been a Dharmaraja-dominated one, with a 35-19 lead in 110 outings. According to the Ancients, the first game between the two teams has been in 1893, the Rajans being led by their then Head Master D.B (later, Sir D.B) Jayathilake. Kingswood had been skippered by Louis Blaze’s confidante and deputy, Ernest Handscombe Spencer: a livewire in many of Kingswood’s early activities, complete with his handle-bar musto (In many articles, and news reports – which seem to copy one another virally – Spencer is referred to as “A.E Spencer”; whereas, the initials should stand as “E.H”). Regular “boys only” games had commenced in 1899, and there have been interruptions by wars, floods and famines (unlike, they say, the Royal-Thomian that had gone on uninterrupted irrespective of politics and global plight, which is frankly a bit disturbing).

Ernest Handscombe Spencer

For Kingswood, the Big Match has been an El Dorado since 1958, when they for the last time in the series managed to, under the captaincy of Maurice Fernando, defeat the Rajans. Dharmaraja’s last win was in 2015; the last of those fatal five years for Kingswood Cricket.  With the teams being more even, the Rajans can enter the game with a level-headed approach, deviod of the hype and banter which was sky high in 2016, where Facebook culture had already declared the Rajans victors even before a single ball had been bowled. Even the generally Dharmaraja-biased sportswriter from Kandy, Dharmaraja’s former Cricketer Upananda Jayasundara, was felt to be a bit more biased than usual in writing ahead of last year’s Big Match, as the smacking Kingswood has been getting for 5 years had made their players, supporters and news reporters giddy alike. With that monkey off the back, the Rajans can tackle the “old foe” on merit, and without unnecessarily undermining him.

Sir D.B Jayathilaka

On another not entirely unrelated note, this year, both teams go into the game under two new heralds at the top — Dharmaraja’s D.M.T.P Wanasinghe, and Kingswood’s R.D.M.P Weerathunga, who are both settling down into their offices as Principals of their respective institutes. The Principals’ attitudes will be very crucial and will be reflected by the schools’ approach to the game, both on and off the field. Since late, there has been brought into the Kingswood- Dharmaraja encounter an “imitation culture”, where Prefects – specially – move about in their “cowboy hats”, taking time off from their traditional duties to “sizzle the dance floor”, swaying to the DJ and so on. While some schools have Prefects who wear hats and jive, Kingswood’s Prefects Court culture has often known to have their duty dared not flee, at the risk of heavy cost. The present Senior Prefect and Scribes come across as critical-minded chaps, and one has to see whether some of these “ugly scenes” from previous years will be trashed, and dignity restored to the office of Prefect.

Except for the odd incident, the Kingswood-Dharmaraja encounter, in recent years, is an event-free two days of sportsmanship both on and off the field. With the generosity of that great spoiler – Rain – what is on the cards is a gripping contest between what on paper is the most evenly poised Kingswood and Dharmaraja XIs in, maybe, 7 or 8 years. Everything falling into place, it would by all means be for Kingswood a matter of fide et virtute; and for Dharmaraja, two adrenaline pumping days of අත්තාහි අත්තනෝ නාථෝ.




Indika Senaratne Selected for Central Stags.

TKJYD_gaz_hms_c599820_9723_247_v01.jpg-pwrt3Former Kingswood batting all rounder Indika Senaratne has been called on to play for Central Stags in the New Zealand domestic T-20 championship. Indika, who was a dashing top order for Kingswood in the early 2000s (Senior Year being 2005/06), later went on to play for BRC and Ragama CC, prior to migration to New Zealand.  Senaratne was one of the anchors of Kingswood’s top order throughout his playing years, and a reliable off break bowler.

Indika was briefly in the news in 2009, when he smashed 281 in 129 balls for a domestic tournament (North Essex League) representing Mistly, which was an all time best in that championship. We wish Indika all the very best in the New Zealand top League and hope for a decent break into International Level Cricket at a suitable point.

Own Goal

kck football

Heartiest congratulations to Kingswood for winning the ‘B’ Division (Division II) championship at the Under 19 level. By no means is this an achievement that can be written off, as Kingswood soccer has, for a long time, been in the sidelines; and is now making a fresh break at a competitive level.

However, our concern is not with the team’s great achievement, but the banner. This banner, first of all, is misleading. It quite clearly implies that Kingswood has won the “All Island Championship”, which — by default — implies the ‘A’ Division (or, Division I). This is not the case. With the current win, Kingswood will be promoted to Division I. This, in other words, is the banner they should have put if they won Division I next year.

By this banner, whoever put this is misleading the school as well as the society. It may even appear that Kingswood is trying to claim a glory that is definitely not theirs.

If, this is indeed a “Division II” win, the next question is: should this banner be put here in the first place? Kingswood Matters, as you may have noticed, is against hanging banners in the fences of the school. The school’s fence is not there to display banners, but should be respected as the outer boundary of the school. Achievements, we believe, should be recognized and appreciated in a silent, noble way; and not by making tamashas out of them.

Even if you want to REALLY celebrate a victory by putting a flag, you ought to choose the victory carefully: a “Division II” win, or a Junior Level achievement at Music is not worthy enough achievements to litter the front yard of the school. You simply lower the prestige of the school and pull it down to the level of a school without taste or a sense of dignity.

kck music

Several lessons to learn: one — be truthful and accurate in what you proclaim. Then, second — learn to celebrate in a decent, silent, noble, humble way. Third — prioratize what you celebrate. Don’t put up a banner for winning a “B Division” prize, or a music event at Under 14. Kingswood has won hundreds and hundreds of such events in its hundred and twenty years. Do not boast of anything underneath the very topmost best. Even when you achieve the top — don’t boast.

True Greatness Does Not Make Noise

If someone asks me to nominate the most “exemplary sports personality” Kingswood has produced in the past decade and a half, Fazil Marija’s name would be almost an automatic choice. Today, most boys involved in sports at Kingswood, can learn much by simply watching Fazil Marija play; they can learn a whole lot more by watching Fazil marija walk on a pavement. Today, in the age of selfies – where everyone is a photographer and supermodel – we see many ordinary sports teams and sports team members being pumped with hot air with qualities they simply don’t have.

1020441Fazil Marija is arguably the most outstanding back division player of our generation. Had Marija been born to a different decade, or attended a Colombo school, his fate would have been very different. Had Sri Lankan rugby not been the soft toy of the Rajapakshes since 2009 – and had it not become the politicized waste bin it has today become – Fazil Marija’s true potential would have been properly used for the betterment of Lankan rugby. Now, at 29, only time and fitness can tell us how far this elegant Fly Half can go – but, my feeling is that the years in which he was “neglected” or “deselected” by the stooges who run the game was a waste that cannot be pardoned in any way.

If someone asks me to nominate the most “exemplary sports personality” Kingswood has produced in the past decade and a half, Fazil Marija’s name would be almost an automatic choice. In rugby alone, there are a few formidable names spread across the late 90s and the 2000s, but, my feeling is that Marija surpasses most of them in a rare combination of talent, sportsmanship and humbleness. Kingswood’s rugby history, between the late 90s and today, can boast of massive names such as Jeewa Galgamuwa, Amjad Buksh, Chamara Withanage, Nilfer Ibrahim, Achala Perera and Gayan and Roshan Weeraratne. Harshana Wijeweera – who for a number of years represented Police SC – was another formidable player in the late 90s. Nalaka Weerakkody, who excelled in the mid to late 1990s, is perhaps, the best kicker to represent Kingswood, Kandy SC and Sri Lanka in recent years.

But, in Fazil Marija, there was always a defining quality which ranked him a step above many of the others, from his schooling days on. This quality had to do with his gentle and quiet way of getting about his business and his ability to “unswitch” himself from being a “rugby star” the moment he left the stadium. Fazil never tried scintillating breaks or tactical punts outside the line. In fact, though earmarked as a tremendous prospect from his young years, Fazil was still one of the most soft and rarely spoken, silent blokes in the school, who didn’t walk any swagger, unlike many who sat on the bench very often did. The true sportsman is defined by how he holds himself both inside and outside the game. Fazil Marija had greatness carved out all the way along. Fazil’s most outstanding years with Kingswood came in 2002, 2003 and 2004. In fact, he was groomed right in the midst of a legendary revival of Kingswood rugby: a renaissance that saw Kingswood ride high between the years 2000 and 2006. Although Kingswood managed a League title in 2008 under Gayan Rathnage, by then, the Kingswoodian star – already drunk with blindness and vanity – was on the wane.

Fazil all horizontal
Fazil all horizontal

Today, most boys involved in sports at Kingswood, can learn much by simply watching Fazil Marija play; they can learn a whole lot more by watching Fazil marija walk on a pavement. Today, in the age of selfies – where everyone is a photographer and supermodel – we see many ordinary sports teams and sports team members being pumped with hot air with qualities they simply don’t have. How some boys thump their chests and make much out of nothing is laughable, given the fact that many of them can’t even come close to a champion (in talent and discipline) such as Fazil. There are fellows who share on Facebook the day-by-day schedule they follow in the fitness center. Others post photos doing push ups, half squats, monkey-bars or other muscle-enhancing drills, accompanied by captions of bravado which the rest of the world finds funny.

There are schools that put a gaudy flex in front of their gate, even when a sports team wins a District title. For example, St. Joseph’s Balika College Nugegoda has a ludicrous front gate, which looks like a advertising billboard of “minor stars” and “minor achievements”. Between Kingswood and St. Joseph’s Balika College, I agree, there is some distance (and not only in Kilometers); but, there are times when the banners Kingswood put moves one to tears, too. In fact, why put banners at all? Why put a banner in front of the school and parade your little achievements to the big wide world which is, anyway, not interested; or, is too busy to care? Are achievements by the school there to be paraded before society – and use it to “compete” with others – or, are these achievements there to be shared and appreciated by the school community? When did this “banner putting” culture come to Kingswood?

As to when Kingswoodians first started hanging flexes and printed fabric in their front fence is not known to me. But, I do not recall such a practice throughout the 1990s, when I was a junior student there under R.B Rambukwelle’s Principalship. One of my contemporaries at school, I remember, used to boast that it was they (some in my batch) who introduced “banners” to Kandy schools (and he sounded very proud of his landmark achievement, too). As to whether this is the fact I am not sure – since every batch feels they are unique in some way – but, in the 2000s Kingswood went malarial with all kinds of notices and banners along the front school fence. On days, Kingswood even looked like a funeral house of a minor VIP.

Coming back to Fazil Marija, throughout his career at Kingswood as well as for his club and country, his main concern has been the game. He is a superstar by merit of his abilities and temperament alone. He has not been distracted by the sequins and gold dust of stardom, nor by media flashes and fanfare. In fact, fellows such as Fazil have injected inspiration into hundreds of budding ruggerites – both at Kingswood and at a national level – and become role models of whom coaches and team managers speak about. I am not very sure as to whether Fazil has ever been sent to the bin, or been drawn a red card on, but I am sure such instances – if at all – are very few. The most familiar sight is where he would run over a try and calmly walk back to his mark, with restrained feeling, in order for the game to resume.

දක්ෂතාවයේ විභවය අලෙවිකරණයෙන් රැකගැනීමේ අවශ්‍යතාවය

තරගය පැවැත්වෙන අතරතුර අපගේ බලාපොරොතුතුව වූයේ ද කිංස්වුඩ් ජයග්‍ර‍හනයකි. නමුත් තරගයෙන් අනතුරුව ප්‍රකෘති දිවියට පැමිණිය යුතු නිසා මෙම සටහන “කිංස්වුඩ් මැටර්ස්” වෙත ඉදිරිපත් කොට ඇත.


කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහලේ කීර්ති නාමයත් ඔහුගේ හැකියාවත් සිරස රූපවාහිනියේ සුපර් ෆයිටර් නරඹන සැම ඇතුලු අනෙක් ලංකාවාසී සැම අතර බැබලවීමට හැකිවීම ගැන ලසිත් දසනායක බොක්සිං ක්‍රීඩක සොයුරා ගැන සතුටක් ඇතිවේ. එහි කිලෝග්‍රෑම් 52 බර පන්තියේ අනුශූරයා (හොදම පරාජිතයා) ලෙස ඔහු ස්ටුඩියෝ එකක් තුල, කෙටි පණිවිඩ ද, නදිනි ප්‍රේමදාස නැමැති සීසන් එකකට පමණක් හිට් වූ සුපර් ස්ටාර් ද ඇතුලු “මීඩියා වීර” විශේෂඥ මත අතරින් ද ගොස් මෙම අනුශූරතාවය දිනා ගැනීම ද වැදගත් වේ. එය වැදගත් වන්නේ වෙන හේතුවක් නිසා නොව, ලසිත් අනුශූරයා වූයේ ද, අනෙක් අය එස්.එම්.එස් ඡන්ද දැම්මේ ද බොක්සිං තරගයක මුවාවෙන් පැවැත්වූ මාධ්‍ය සංදර්ශනයකට වීම නිසාය. අපේ එදිනෙදා ජීවිතය මෙවැනි සංදර්ශන මාලාවක අන්තර් වියමනක් ද වන නිසා මෙහිදී ලසිත් ට වැරැද්දක් පැටවීමක් වන්නේ නැත. අනෙක් අතට, තම දක්ෂතාවය උරගා බැලීමට ලැබුනු අවස්ථාවක් උපරිමයට යොදා ගැනීම තුලින් ලසිත් ජයග්‍රහනයක්ම ලැබුවා යැයි තර්ක කිරීමට ද හැක.

සිරස බොක්සිං තරග‍යේ අනුශූරයා වූ ලසිත් කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහලේ දී පිලිගැනුනේ තූර්ය වාදක කණ්ඩායමේ නාදය ද අතරිනි. ඉහල පාලන තන්ත්‍රය ඉතා නිහතමානීව ප්‍රධාන ගේට්ටුව අසලටම පැමිණ ඔහුව පිලිගත්හ. විශේෂ උත්සවයක් ද පැවැත්වුනු අතර, කිංස්වුඩ් බොක්සිං ෆේස්බුක් පේජ් එක එහිදී ලසිත් ව හැදින්වූයේ උත්සවයේ “ප්‍රධාන අමුත්තා” වශයෙනි. මෙම “ප්‍රධාන අමුත්තා” ගමන් කරන මාර්ගය දෙපස අත්පොලොසන් දෙමින් කණිෂ්ඨ ශිෂ්‍යයෝ රදවා තිබුණි. මේ හා සමාන පිලිගැනීමක් ජයමාල් විතානගේ යටතේ තරග කළ කිංස්වුඩ් රගර් කණ්ඩායමට 2001 වසරේදී ලැබුණි. එම කණ්ඩායම පෑ වික්‍රමය නම් “බී” කොටසින් තරග කර ජනාධිපති කුසලානය කිංස්වුඩ් ඉතිහාසයේ මුල් වරට දිනා ගැනීමයි. තූර්යවැයුමක් නොතිබුණු නමුත් ප්‍රධාන ශාලාවේදී උත්සවශ්‍රීයෙන් පිලිගැනීමක් සිදුවිනි.

1991 වසරේදී ද මේ හා සමාන පිලිගැනීමක් සිදුවුනි. ඒ දකුණු ආසියාතික ක්‍රීඩා උළෙලේ බර ඉසිලීමට ලෝකඩ පදක්කමක් දිනූ (කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහලට කේවල තරග ඉසව්වකදී ඉහලම ගෞරවය ගෙනදුන් බවට තර්ක කල හැකි) අසේල විජේවික්‍රම ක්‍රීඩකයා පිලිගැනීම පිණිසයි. අසේලගේ ජයග්‍රහනය කලාපයේ රටවල් හතක ක්‍රීඩකයින් සමග වන අතර, 2001 දී රගර් කණ්ඩායම එම වසරේ හොදම පාසල් රගර් කණ්ඩායම් අට සමග “බී” කාණ්ඩයෙන් පැමිණ තරග කලේය. අද, 2014 දී ලසිත් සොයුරා සිරස රූපවාහිනී බොක්සිං තරගයේ අනුශූරයා වී යථෝක්ත අවස්ථා හා සමාන ම පිලිගැනීමකින් පිදුම් ලබයි. මෙහිදී ඉහත අවස්ථා තුන හරහා පැහැදිලි වෙන කරුණු දෙකක් තිබේ. එකක් නම්, එක්කෝ මෙම වසර විසිතුනක කාලරාමුව හරහා කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහල සාපේක්ෂව වඩා “ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදී” පාසලක් වී ඇති බවයි. අන්තර්ජාතික ශූරයාගේ මල්මාලය ම ජනප්‍රියවාදී ටෙලිවිෂන් තරගයේ අනුශූරයාටද වෙන්කර ඇති බවයි (මෙය ලසිත්ගේ ජයග්‍රහණය ගැන විමසුමක් නොවන බව නැවත උච්චාරනය කලයුතුයි). එය එසේ නොවේ නම්, මෙම අවස්ථා තුනෙන් ගම්‍ය කරගත හැකි තවත් කරුනක් ලෙසට තර්ක කල හැක්කේ කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහලේ “විශිෂ්ටත්වය” මැනීමේ කෝදුවේ මෘදුකාංග ගෙවීගොස් ඇති බවකි. නැත්නම්, මාධ්‍ය විසින් මවනු ලබන විජ්ජා ජ‍ාලයේ ෆැන්ටසිකරණය තුල විද්‍යාලය ද අතරමං වී ඇත් ද?

Lasith's friends and fans congratulating him after his achievement.
Lasith’s friends and fans congratulating him after his achievement.

අපට අසන්නට ඇති අදාලම ප්‍රශ්ණය වන්නේ මෙතැන් සිට ඕනෑම බාහිර හෝ අධ්‍යාපනික ක්‍රියාකාරකමකින් ජාතික මට්ටමේ අනුශූරතාවක් හෝ ඉන් ඉහල ස්ථානයක් ලබාගත් අයෙකුට මෙවැනිම පිලිගැනීමක් — බෙර ගසා, මල්මාල දමා, උත්සවයක් තබා — කරනවාද යන්නයි. නැතිනම්, මෙම පිලිගැනීම මේ ආකාරයෙන් සිදුවූයේ ලසිත් තරග කලේ රූපවාහිනී මාධ්‍යයක් මෙහෙය වූ සන්දර්ශනාත්මක බොක්සිං වළල්ලක වීම නිසාද? මෙම ප්‍රශ්ණයට පිලිතුර “ඔව්” යන්න නම් අපි අපගේ ප්‍රමුඛතාවයන් හා වටිනාකම් ගැන අප විසින්ම කරගත යුතු ප්‍රශ්ණාවලියක ආරම්භය ද එයම වේ. එය පෞද්ගලික වූ ද, ආචාර ධර්මීය වූද ප්‍රශ්ණ කිරීමකි. එය ලසිත්ගේ මට්ටමින් කෙරෙන්නේ නම් “නාමික” බොක්සිං තරගයකට තම ශක්තිය හා ආත්මය වමාරමින්, මාධ්‍ය විසින් තමාට එන්නත් කරනු ලැබූ ලංසුවකට අලෙවි වෙමින් තමා ලබන “ජනප්‍රියතාවය” කොතරම් තම හෘදසාක්ෂිය හා අනුරූප වෙනවාද යන්න විවාදයට බදුන් කල යුතුය. මෙම තරගයට ඇතුලුවීමෙන් ම ලසිත් මෙම ප්‍රශ්ණය නිරාකරනය කර දී තිබේ. එසේ නැතිනම් එවැනි ප්‍රශ්ණ කිරීමක් අවශ්‍ය නැතැයි ද, වෘත්තීය ක්‍රීඩකයින් පවා අලෙවිකරණය වන බැවින් මේ නැගී එන ක්‍රීඩකයා පරිභෝජන ජාලයකට මෙසේ ඇතුලත් කිරීමේ වරදක් නැතැයි ද සිතන්නෝ සිටිය හැක.

වඩා වැදගත් ආත්මකථනය කරගත යුත්තේ විද්‍යාලයයි. ඒ, අප අගයන සහ ඇගයුම් ලෙස අපේම සොයුරන් හා බෙදා හදා ගෙන ආත්මගත කරගතයුතු වටිනාකම් හා හර පද්ධතීන් සම්බන්දවයි. අපේ එදිනෙදා වැඩකටයුතු ඉහත කී පරිභෝජනවාදී ජාලයක නැවත නැවත වෙලෙමින් පවතින තත්වයකදී එම තත්වයන් හදුනාගැනීමටත්, ඒ හා ඵලදායී ගනුදෙනුවක නියැලීමට ශිෂ්‍යයා යොමුකරවීමත් විද්‍යාලයක වගකීමයි. අපගේ උනන්දුව වියයුත්තේ පරිභෝජනවාදයෙන් බඩජාරී වුනු මාධ්‍ය භාවිතයකින් සුරුවම් කෙරෙන “සුපිරි තරු” බිහිකර ගැනීමකට වඩා විචාරශීලී හා තීක්ෂන ලෙස මොලය‍ට තට්ටු කර වැ‍ඩක් කල හැකි “පොලව දෙසට නැමුනු” සිසු කැලක් වඩා ගැනීමය. එය ලසිත් වැනි විභවයක් ඇති ක්‍රීඩකයින්ට ද වඩා “ක්‍රීඩාශීලී” පෞරුෂයක් ඇතිකර ගැනීමට ඌනපූර්නයක් සපයනු ඇත. “සුපර් ස්ටාර්” මානසිකත්වයකින් බාල්දු කෙරුනු රටක අවිචාරශීලීව ඒ දෙසටම අපද යනවා නම් ඒ ගැන වඩා වැදගත් ස්වයං-විවේචනයක් අවශ්‍ය වේ. විද්‍යලයේ ඉතිහාසය හා බැදී පවතින අල්පේච්ඡ බව හා නිහතමානී ගුණාංග එවැනි විවේචනයක “අදාලතාවය” ගැන අපට බල කරයි.

අසේල විජේවික්‍රම උපහාරයට පසු අවුරුද්දේ, 1993 දී, අයි.එන් හේවාවසම් “මීහරකා” නම් සිනමා නිර්මාණයක් මුදා හරියි. ලින්ටන් සේමගේ හා ස්වර්ණා මල්ලවආරච්චි රංග නිරූපණය කරන එය මානසික වශයෙන් නොවැඩුනු, පිටිසර ගැමි කොල්ලෙක් වටා ගෙතුනකි. කිසිදු අධ්‍යාපනයක් නොලත් ඔහු මීහරක් බලාගෙන ජීවිකාව ගෙන යයි. නගරයේ සිට එන බස් රියදුරෙකු හා ගෝලයෙකු මොහුගෙ “නොදන්නාභාවය” හරහා අඩුවෙන් මුදල් ගෙවා මී කිරි මිලදී ගනී. කොල්ලා සතුටු කිරීම‍ට සිගරට්, වැල පත්තර ආදිය ද සපයයි. මෙම “සූරාකෑම” දිගටම සිදුවෙන අතර තමාට සිදුවන ආර්ථික හෝ ආධ්‍යාත්මික අහේනිය දැකීමට තරම් විඥානයක් මීහරක් බලන කොල්ලාට නැත. චිත්‍රපටය අවසානයේ දී කොල්ලා සියදිවි නසාගැනෙන අවස්ථාවක් වේ. චිත්‍රපටය අවසන් වන්නේ බස් රථය නැවත ගමට එන දර්ශනයකිනි. මීකිරි විකිණීමට වෙනත් කොල්ලෙක් බස් රියදුරා හා ගෝලයා සොයාගත් බවක් ප්‍රකාශ වේ. වැල පත්තරය දැන් ඔහුගේ සන්තෝසම බවට පත්වේ. “සුපර් ස්ටාර්” සංස්කෘතියේ කෙටි ඉතිහාසය විමසා බැලීමේදී බස් ගෝලයින් දෙදෙනා හා සිරස “ස්ටාර් මේනියාවේ” වෙනසක් නැත්තේය. සිගරට් එක, පත්තරය වෙනුවට මුදල්, ත්‍යාග හා “නොමිලේ ගුවන්ගත වීමේ අවස්ථාවක්” මෙන්ම ප්‍රචාරනයක් ද ලබා දෙනු ලැබේ. ඔබේ “ජනප්‍රියතාවයේ මිනිත්තු පහලොව” ඒ හරහා ලැබෙනු ඇත. අපගේ අධ්‍යාපනයේ හරය විය යුත්තේ මෙම අරාජිකත්වය විනිවිද යාම‍ට නිර්මාණාත්මක ක්‍රමවේදයන් ගවේෂණය කිරීමයි. පත්තරයට, සිගරට් එකට අපගේ හැකියාව හෝ මී කිරි හට්ටිය හෝ විකුණා දැමීම නොවේ.

End Where I Began: The De Lanerolle Silverware Returns to Randles Hill

The 10th Annual KM De Lanerolle Memorial Debate Competition conducted by the Past Debaters of Kingswood™ was concluded at the College Main Hall on the 28th of June. Kingswood College emerged trumps for 2014, in this month long competition, after a final inter-locking of wit with Kandy Girls’ High School. The Kingswood-Girls’ High School finale was a replay of the tournament’s inaugural final ten years ago, where these two schools met for a similar result. This was Kingswood’s first De Lanerolle triumph in seven years, and Girls’ High School’s first final in the same number of years.

A pre-semi final pose by the top four teams for 2014: Kingswood, Girls' High School, Good Shepherd Convent and Dharmaraja
A pre-semi final pose by the top four teams for 2014: Kingswood, Girls’ High School, Good Shepherd Convent and Dharmaraja

Kingswood’s victory, however, should not pale into insignificance their weaknesses, as some of us felt that the debate would not have been plain sailing for the home boys had their opponents been a bit more thorough with their homework. Kingswood, to do them justice, had a comprehensive four-part base in opposing the topic – whether “Religious Persecution in Sri Lanka can be controlled with the existing legal framework” – and mediated in a logically thought out argument process. Girls’ High School, however, seemed to lack an impressionable thesis upfront and were caught defending a ill-fortified bastion. Indeed, they were more eloquent in their delivery and persuasive in speech, but lacked conviction in their countering: a cardinal sin in debating.

Kingswood’s subsequent Facebook celebrations, however, do not even stress on the fact that their 4th Speaker – arguably the most crucial position of the debate – looked as if he was standing on a mound of sand all the time he spoke, and that their 2nd Speaker needs better clarity to do justice to the depository of facts and figures from which he belted out. The 3rd Speaker was in such a mighty hurry that he almost ran the risk of choking his own words, while the Leader’s summing up stressed on way too many secondary and redundant facts: which, on another day, may have caused the debate. In summary, Kingswood is not a foolproof unit and they have their shoes to shine before going cyber.

The 10th year of the competition was a food-for-thoughter for the organizers, as they were challenged on all ends by the vermin of ill-discipline to which several contesting teams had succumbed. Pressurizing the organizers to change debate dates, eleventh hour pulling outs, complains regarding panelists (after losing debates), the effrontery to challenge given verdicts were more frequent and annoying than in any of the past nine years. While a teacher accompanying a team, after losing a debate, claimed the topic was too partial, another teacher submitted a charge sheet of eight “complains” – three of them baseless, five of them her personal problems. Three teams that had earlier registered for the competition gave eleventh hour walkovers, while another team – one qualified for the 3rd Place play off – confirmed participation in the eleventh hour and pronounced a walkover with flirting distance to the twelfth. None of these thug tactics are appreciated and are condemned in the name of sportsmanship and civilization.

The winning Kingswood team [Gowthaman Nallaretnam, Bihan Viranga De Silva, Abdul Azeez (Leader) and Akmal Javvad]
The winning Kingswood team [Gowthaman Nallaretnam, Bihan Viranga De Silva, Abdul Azeez (Leader) and Akmal Javvad]
The glamour thus stolen, the tournament, yet, saw the blooming of several intense debates and a few other outstanding moments which will find ready space in our De Lanerolle scrap books. Good Shepherd Convent – who ultimately came third to take home the FAJ Utting Memorial Trophy – caused an upset by turning tables on St. Sylvester’s, and almost caused the plank-walking of Kingswood in the Semi Finals, which they narrowly lost 1-2. This was arguably Good Shepherd’s best De Lanerolle year, with two of their speakers making the top three in the individual prize list. Aysha Wazeer (Best Speaker – 3rd) and Rosemary Fernando (Best Speaker – 2nd) had just 0.75 marks between them. Dharmaraja made a comeback to Randles Hill after 9 years, taking part for the first time since 2005. The Rajans, who came Runners Up at the Lalitha Fernando Debate Competition at Mahamaya in January, fielded a vibrant set of debaters who stood up to impress. Their Fourth Speaker Janith Wickramasinghe showed much promise which we hope will blossom in the next few debates he will speak in.

Nushara Amarasekara (KGHS) won the VD Paulraj Memorial Prize for the Best Speaker for 2014, with a series of stellar performances leading up to the finals. She was also adjudicated the Best Fourth Speaker, being the first speaker in the competition’s history to bag the double.

The tournament also felt the absence of Gateway College, who had earlier won the series four years in a row and had carved for itself a niche of fans as one of the best teams of the recent past. The organizing committee, during the wrap up, acknowledged their own ignorance of the London examination schedules (which caused a clash between the debate dates and exams, forcing Gateway and CIS out): a grave error which they acknowledged would be borne in mind for the future.

The finals were honoured by Mr. Gihan Wijekoon, Kingswood’s Senior Prefect of 1988 – an enigmatic legend is the school’s circuits – and Mr. Delawer Shah, a one time whip crack in Kingswood debating and team leader in 1998. The Main Hall was flooded by an army of Girls’ High School girls, parents and teachers; as opposed to a sprinkling of support for the home team, which struck us as amusing. Kingswood also felicitated its long-serving teacher-in-charge of debating Mrs Jayantha Ranasinghe who was recently transferred in service, after sixteen years at Kingswood (twelve years with the team).

Kingswood’s win is their fourth overall De Lanerolle triumph and their first since 2007. They are joint-holders of the claim to have won the tournament most number of times, alongside Gateway College, who trumped in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Main Prizes:

The 1st Place (De Lanerolle Memorial Prize and Spencer Debate Shield): Kingswood.
The 2nd Place (The P.H. Nonis Memorial Prize): Kandy Girls’ High School.
The 3rd Place (The FAJ Utting Memorial Trophy): Good Shepherd Convent.
The Best Speaker (VD Paulraj Memorial Prize): Nushara Amarasekara (KGHS).

Homage to Uwin Ariyarathne

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.

P31-01-14_12.15Saliya — 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.

New ImageThe 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.