‘Murali Harmony Cup’ to promote social reconciliation through cricket

Tuesday, 4 September 2012 00:18 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Devin Jayasundera

In the run up to the ICC world Twenty20 the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Foundation of Goodness (spearheaded by Muttiah Muralidaran and Kushil Gunasekera) partnered in launching the ‘Murali Harmony Cup’ in order to promote Social harmony and unity among the country’s youth. The event is supported by the Mahela Foundation and Kumar Sangakkara’s Bikes for Life campaign.

The tournament will comprise of 12 boys teams and eight women teams. All matches which will be staged in the Northern and Eastern Province across five venues namely Jaffna, Kilnochchi, Mullaitivu and Oddusuddan. The format of the tournament would emulate the ICC world T20 Championship.

Kumar Sangakkara professed the origin of the concept behind the tournament. “It was Mahela who initially conceived this idea when he visited the north with the intention of developing sports through his foundation. There he had the opportunity to witness passion and enthusiasm of the children towards cricket even without adequate facilities. This story moved us and there we felt that Cricket should be more inclusive and proper access should be granted anywhere in the island.”

He stated that the main objective of the event is social reconciliation among communities. “It’s about leaving a legacy, creating a better future with communal harmony and also to eradicate misunderstandings to heal wounds of these suffered communities. And this would provide the stepping stone for one of those children who will be participating in the tournament to represent Sri Lanka.”  

Sangakkara made special praise to military forces that assisted in setting up the grounds to decent levels in a very short period of time. The Oddusudan Ground which will be the flagship ground of the tournament will be renovated with the help of the Indian Ocean Relief Fund.

The Chief Trustee and Founder of the Foundation of Goodness Kushil Gunasekera claimed that this would not have been possible without the initial funding of Rs. 10 million by the ICC. He also pointed out why the title of the cup is named in the name of the legendary Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralidaran. “Murali’s contribution in the post tsunami effort has been exemplary where he helped around 7000 people in the South by setting up the cricket village in Seenigama and more importantly he’s a symbol of Social unity. And as a tribute we named it after him.”

Muttiah Muralidaran noted that this is a platform to develop equal opportunities to provide access to sports and also to improve peace and understanding among communities.

The players would have the opportunity to participate in master classes which are conducted by Sri Lanka Cricket Council accredited trainers and also by leading international cricketers who are here for the T20 world cup. The star performers of the tournament will be selected to the Under 19 Unity team to represent the country in a tournament in Singapore.

Participating Boy’s Teams: Jaffna Combined Schools, Trinity College, Mannar/Vavuniya Combined Schools, Debarawewa MV College, Mullativu Combined Schools, Dharmasoka College, Anuradhapura Central College, Maliyadewa College, Kilinochchi Combined Schools, Seenigama Foundation of Goodness Academy, Trincomalee-Batticaloa Combined Schools, St Peter’s College

Ladies Teams: Eastern Province Combined, Sri Lanka Army Ladies, Seenigama Ladies, Shakthi Ladies Anuradhapura, Northern Province, Sri Lanka Airforce Ladies, Kurunegala Ladies, Nittabuwa Sports Club Ladies.

Pix by Upul Abayasekara