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Kumara Sangakkara, Kushil Gunasekera and Muttiah Muralitharan hold the shirt that will be distributed to the teams | (Pic by Nathan Delight)

Sri Lanka is taking great strides in bringing about reconciliation and goodwill in the North by organizing sports events that will evolve friendship and awareness for strengthening cordial relations and development as time goes by. This is keeping with the programme set about by leading world organisations like the United Nations (UN) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who are working together every year to make aware on the importance of sports in development in troubled areas.

The Foundation of Goodness (FoG) has set about this task in keeping with the UN and IOC charter to organise the Murali Harmony Cup cricket tournament to be conducted for the fifth year in Jaffna beginning on October 7.

Elite people who are behind the FoG are former cricketers, Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara along with eminent lawyer Kushil Gunasekera who foresaw that sports is the only way to bring about an awareness for reconciliation and strengthening of friendship and erase the suspicions among each other by organising this tournament.

Founder of the FoG Kushil Gunasekera said that they started this tournament in 2012 in a small way at Seeniyagama in the South but later realised that it was better to have the tournament is the North so that children from all races will get the opportunity to interact and foster relationships.

The tournament will see 16 boys teams and eight women’s teams participating in five grounds in the towns of Jaffna, Oddusuddan, Mankulam and Killinochchi.

The five day event will feature Under-19 schoolboy teams and under-23 women cricketers with 360 crickets, mostly from disadvantaged rural schools, participating.

The sponsors have been very generous and all players will be provided with their playing kits including shoes, said Gunasekera.

“There was a request from Jaffna to form a combined team in the North and that was granted. All teams will be kept behind to attend the final also to add colour to the event and benefit the sponsors,” added Gunasekera.

“The greater number of schools and teams that are participating is testament to the success of the previous tournaments and also will foster the goals of integrating communities across the island,” tournament founder Muralidaran said.

“Having attended last year’s tournament it is uplifting to see how children from different parts of the country are brought together by sport and witness the positive spirit in which the game is played,” Sangakkara said.

The title sponsor is Lanka Graphite Limited based in Australia.

Other key sponsorship partners include MAS, Fortune, Tokyo Cement, NDB Bank, Finlays, Kia Motors and Access.

The teams that will participating are:
Group A: Jaffna Combined Schools, D.S. Senanayake College, Maliyadewa College and Monaragala Combined Schools.

Group B: St. John’s College Jaffna, Up Country Combined Schools, Debarawewa Central College and Trinco-Batti Combined Schools.

Group C: Killinochchi-Mullaitivu Combined Schools, Ananda College, St. Anthony’s College Wattala and International Combined Schools.

Group D: Mannar-Vavuniya Combined Schools, Dharmaraja College Kandy, Richmond College Galle and P. de S. Kularatne College.

Ladies Clubs:
Group A: North-East Combined Ladies, Seenigama Ladies, Matale Ladies and Nittambuwa Ladies.

Group B: Polonnaruwa Ladies, Shekthi Ladies, Anuradhapura, Badulla Ladies and Combined Girls Schools.