Plans are being finalised to make the upcoming 140th Battle of the Blues encounter taking place from today to 9 March ‘the cleanest in history’.
Cricket, they say, used to be the game of gentlemen. In many ways, like much of the rest of modern society however, standards are dropping. It’s no longer clean as gamesmanship is ousted by dirty politics and dirty money.
Not, thank god, we hope in one of the oldest college matches in this country’s history – The Battle of the Blues – the game that has been played hard and well and infused with incredible camaraderie since the 1880s. ‘Win or lose who cares, it’s how we play the game,’ many an inebriated old boy would say.
This year a commitment to look at this event as a test bed of behaviour during and after the match in keeping the stadium, stalls and grounds as litter free as possible is as ambitious as it is noteworthy. The young and old members of the Match Committee, headed by Raj Mohan of Royal and formed of old boys from both colleges, are supporting this vision and have taken up the challenge to give it their best shot.
According to NoKunu Spokesperson Shehara de Silva, who has met with the highly-supportive Organising Committee, the vendors supplying goods are all coming on board pledging to keep cleaning up real-time with additional staff deployed to clean up their own packaging waste over and above the match/tent clean-up operations.
Outsourced cleaning company Abans Ltd. is also deploying extra efforts to ensure there’s not a bottle or wrapper lying around.
The NoKunu movement is a citizen’s movement founded by Sumi Moonesighe, a woman with a mission and insatiable drive to ensure she helps galvanise young people to keep Sri Lanka clean. The campaign idea is a simple concept of incrementalism. Little drops of water that create an ocean; collective citizen action that creates a ripple, and then a wave. A wave that can stop in this case a tsunami of garbage burying us all in ill health, environmental impacts and loss of life.
There is a complex security system at the event and all vendor staff are preregistered and pre-approved. Companies like John Keells, Elephant House, Prima, Heineken, Fonterra, Pagoda, Perera & Sons and Heineken will all be going that extra mile to clean up as they sell their products, and ensuring the after match clean-up logistics are ramped up.
Match committee members state that there will be approximately 26 food and beverage stalls with 10,000 school children and thousands of old boys in attendance, many of whom make trips from overseas in some kind of pilgrimage to their youth and the unmatched fun it offers. Everyone should have a great time but like drinking and driving it must be done responsibly.
John Keells Holdings will provide six large plastic recycling cages for its bottles which are now all recyclable. There will be dozens of colour coded garbage bins placed in and around the vicinity of the SSC grounds supplied by Phoenix Plastics.
A prize of Rs. 15,000 is being offered to the cleanest tent in a hope that a mini Royal-Thomian for the young students could be started. “We must catch them young and teach them the right stuff. Prefects and principles too will drive the message home to the boys. This time the game must run on the cleanliness discipline stakes,” NoKunu stresses.
A leading corporate CEO supporting this effort as an old boy and a vendor supplying food in the stalls stated: “Let’s play it hard and play it clean in all possible meanings of the word. It’s a great symbolic and practical way to show leadership and values from two great schools.”
The NoKunu initiative also has plans to have school awareness programmes by promoting games on waste segregation with prizes for the students who dispose trash to the correct bins. The campaign hopes to get the schools on board and to work with Rotary Club to handle a youth corps from the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and schools to manage the logistics, social media campaign and messaging strategy.
Cricket legend Kumar Sangakkara is also backing this effort endorsing the pledge. His video message is now going viral and it is hoped that every company will play this on their company Facebook and employee intranets. As Sangakkara says, it’s a simple message we need to spread. “If we love our country we must protect it. This is not about politics, this is common sense and self- preservation. In true Gandhian tradition, ‘We have to be the change we want in in the world.’”