Getting ready to celebrate the world’s third largest sporting event, Sri Lanka will pull off all stops to make sure things run smoothly and with enthusiasm from all Lankans.
By Cheranka Mendis
Announcing the programme line up leading up to the ICC World Cup 2011 to be held in February next year, Director Operation of Phoenix Ogilvy S.M. Sudesh stated that during the next three months, a large number of fringe events will be held in Sri Lanka to get “the locals in the excited mood for the World Cup.” The campaign which will be held under three stages: awareness creation, engaging the audience and involving the audience will ensure that come February World Cup fever is running high in the country.
Starting with a ticket reservation launch in Hambantota to a 100 day to the world cup count down to radio activities to find the “suitable lingo for Stump the event mascot” the locals will be drawn in via a number of events.
Sudesh stated that the events will kick start with the ‘ICC mini cricket world cup’— a softball cricket tournament for local youth and school children. There will be three matches conducted in different venues starting with a match in Hambantota on 4 December followed by matches in Kandy and Colombo on 11 and 18 December respectively. The final winner from the regional playoff will face six members from the champion 1996 world cup team. “We aim at making this a family affair and not just a cricketing event. The atmosphere would resemble a carnival with entertainment, food activities and games for kids.”
With Sri Lanka being one of the host nations, the World Cup trophy will be on Lankan soil in the last week of December. Guaranteeing an opportunity for the locals to witness the trophy, the organisers have planned a mega concert featuring recognised local talent to be held on 23 December at the Galle Face Green. More details will be revealed soon, Sudesh said. Two other concerts will also be held in Kandy on 16 January and then in Hambantota in February.
A 45 day island wide promotional campaign titled ‘World Cup Glory Express’ will be launched on 23 December, where a highly decorated float with 1996 World Cup memorabilia will tour around the nation reaching all parts of the country from the South to the North. “A great leather ball will also be showcased in a float where we would encourage all Sri Lankans to pledge their support to the national cricket team and wish them luck by placing their handprint on it,” he said. The journey will end in Hambantota on 18 February.
The Colombo city will also be transformed to a ‘cricket zone’ as well, if all goes as planned. Coloured lights on the street will add to the glamour the organisers hope to create while the Bandaranaike International Airport will also be decorated with all things related to the World Cup 2011.
The three stadiums at which the tournaments are to be played in Sri Lanka; namely Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota, R.Premadasa Stadium in Khettarama, and Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy will finish all major construction work by 31 December.
Minor details and other decorations will be organised till 10 February, Chairman Sri Lanka Cricket D.S. de Silva said.
Expressing that this is the time to showcase Sri Lanka at its best, de Silva requested all parties to use the opportunity as a springboard to sharpen up the image of Sri Lanka cricket as well as the country itself.
The Cricket Board has teamed up with Sri Lanka Tourism to organise a number of entertainment events for the foreign tourists from 19 February to 2 April to feature Sri Lanka as a fun destination or as an entertainment hub.
“There will be a number of events such as beach volleyball and hawker streets to get the entertainment going.”
Also speaking at the event, former Cricket Captain and member of the 1996 World Cup champion team Aravinda de Silva, re-living the memories of the glory days said, “For me as a player it was a dream come true. For any cricket player winning a world cup would be the icing on the cake. I remember watching the match on TV and hoping fervently that we would win. As such being a part of the winning team was a very special occasion for me.”
“Here is an opportunity for us to showcase the same level of focus and victory in our home territory. We have the potential to win and bring the Cup back to Sri Lanka.
I would like to see another team showing as much enthusiasm since the game has brought unity among fellow Sri Lankans,” de Silva who is also the Chairman of the Selection Committee Sri Lanka Cricket said.
Pix by Dinuka Liyanawatte