Unity is divinity Festival of Cricket in UK
Posted on September 6th, 2010

Dr.Tilak Fernando

The word unity is described in many English dictionaries as state of being one or the state of being made one. If the same formula can be equated into our society what do we get? Just the opposite! We have unfortunately and unwillingly earned the reputation of a civilization where even 10 people cannot get together in unison and accomplish a single task successfully because of our inability to shed elements of jealousy, hatred, fear and selfishness which are coiled round our lives as venomous serpents. Why go any further? Just one glance at our own political circles is self-explanatory! Naturally, there is no smoke without fire!

Two decades ago, during an era when dark clouds overshadowed Sri Lanka with a ruthless terrorist movement where the meaning of the word ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”UnityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ or ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”FriendshipƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ was at its lowest ebb, an old Anandian living in London (G C Perera) came up with an exciting idea to collect a few old boys of Sri Lankan Alma mater to form an ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Old Boys AssociationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ in the UK.

His vision was further cemented with another vibrant idea of making the game of cricket as a cynosural inducement to attract a full spectrum of the Sri Lankan community in the UK, with their families, to a single rendezvous on an open day. This made the occasion as a popular social intercourse where old friendships were renewed and new acquaintances established. The unswerving result of that mission was the Festival of Cricket (FOC) in England.


Cricket tournament

On July 3, 1989 thousands of Sri Lankan expatriates gathered at the Maori Club in the suburbs of London to witness and celebrate the first ever Festival of Cricket (FOC). FoCƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s fundamental modus operandi began to gather momentum year on year with more and more OBAs joining the cricket tournament when the partaking teams and spectators increased in multiples. Seemingly, FOC objectives began to take a firm grip in becoming the most popular social event among the Sri Lankan expatriates in the UK. On July 11, 2010, 25 teams, seven a-side, of former very talented schoolboy and club cricketers played a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”limited-over-knockoutƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ tournament on three pitches simultaneously emulating an atmosphere of inter-school ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Big MatchƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ rivalry as in Sri Lanka.

FOC operates with the assistance and cooperation of volunteer committees of each OBA working together in perfect harmony to make the event an immense success.

Here, the game of cricket being the main focus, raising of funds to help individual alma mater as well as running a childrenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s charity, particularly to help the Maharagama Cancer Hospital and Cancer Research Institute in the UK has been their main agenda.

The game of cricket bolsters a number of other activities such as music, childrenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s fun fare, a Sri Lankan bazaar, excellent international cuisine from numerous food stalls, beer tent, trade stalls representing Sri Lankan business houses, airlines, freight companies, insurance, banks, mobile phone outlets etc., turning the event into a comprehensive ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”open dayƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ for Sri Lankans in the UK.

Tourist promotion

An exclusive Hospitality Marquee caters for the elite and entrepreneurs who can afford to entertain their business clientele and British friends while watching cricket in a relaxed atmosphere.

On this occasion observing the Sri Lankan culture and sampling of mouth watering Sri Lankan gastronomy become a far-reaching Sri Lankan tourist promotion for Western visitors.

All proceeds of the event are divided among the participating schools to purchase educational materials, equipment or to set up Scholarship Funds in Sri Lanka with a separate ChildrenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s charity that always make a substantial donation to the National Cancer Institute of Sri Lanka.

FOC has not shifted from their original undertaking and commitment to discharge their humanitarian act irrespectively, despite FOCƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s disappointment once, especially after the ChildrenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s charity arm raised 10,000 Pound (Rs 2,000,000) and donated a blood scanning machine to the Maharagama Cancer Hospital where the bureaucracy at the Health Ministry at the time failed to utilize this valuable equipment to its advantage.

In the present climate of industrial revolution and widespread migration, Lon

don can be considered as an extension of Colombo for many entities from Sri Lankan newspapers to fresh vegetables and canned food adorn Sri Lankan (as well as British) supermarket shelves.

FOC offers the biggest exposure for Sri Lankan trade annually at the Cricket Festival, but so far entrepreneurs and manufactures back at home have not utilized this opportunity to maximize their marketing strategies to promote home products to the UK open market, despite SriLankan Airlines offer special fares to London during this festival.

Mutual respect

The chief guest of the event has always been the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the UK from its very inception while sponsors have changed. This year SriLankan Airlines, SM Call-Dialog and Sri Lanka Tourist Board sponsored the event.

In the meanwhile it is learnt, through grapevine, that FOC committees are considering wooing a Sri Lankan business tycoon annually, as the Chief Guest, in the future to give more exposure to the Festival of Cricket in Sri Lanka and work towards a mutual advantage.

Festival of Cricket (FOC) in the UK has been creating opportunities for other organizations to join and share benefits over the years. In the process they have had to meet their objectives.

The strength for its survival and success over 21 years can be put down to the firm dedication and commitment of its members in upholding the very basic principles, collective responsibility and mutual respect for each other thus proving the point that unity is modesty and wholesomeness.


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