EW Balasuriya, Kandy’s versatile sportsman, sports benefactor, philanthropic, and above all a gentleman, was remembered on his 7th death anniversary. He died on April 6, 2010. He was husband of the late Jaya, and father of Asoka, Lakshman, Rohan, Mahendra, Lakshmi and Gayathri, father-in-law of Manel, Janine, Dhanu, Damayanthi, Kumari and Madan.
Balasuriya started his education at Dharmaraja College and later at Ananda College. He excelled at cricket as an opening batsman. During his playing days, he was rated as one of the steady opening bat with an array of strokes. He was known as EW and Bala and was a well-known figure in Kandy and whole of Sri Lanka. He was there to give his hand to every sport, social work and education.
Only those who moved with this great gentleman knew about his other social activities in which he was deeply involved. There was hardly any sporting event in Kandy in which he was not involved in. His pet sports were rugby and cricket. The encouragement he gave to players and clubs by way of financial assistance, advice and guidance is well known to many.
As a donor he was unique and, unlike most others, he was freely available to all sportsmen at any time. He was one-time Secretary of the Central Province Cricket Association and later hit the top spot when he organised the first official Test match at the Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy when Gamini Dissanayake was President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka.
He gave a big hand to Kandy by helping the Municipal Council to build the Mahiyawa Crematorium, and to convert the Bogambara Grounds into a stadium in 1972. EW had the gift of making people feel exalted and raised their spirit by a few words of comfort or expression of support. “Don’t worry, you do whatever you like I will give the backing, I am there with you,” were his favourite words. He also gave a big hand to the Dharmaraja College swimming pool project.
In the field of rugby, he is the person who founded the Kandy Lake Club in 1962 and Kandy RFC, which clubs went places in rugby. EW’s idea of forming this club was to give the unknown ruggerites a chance. He was a great rugby developer. His first rugby side was coached by Maurice Perera, the famous All Ceylon prop forward and coach and Sydney Ratwatte.
He also gave a big hand for cricket, and Kandy Lake Club produced top cricket teams and cricketers in the 1960s and became the champions of Central Province, with players like Bertie Gomes, N Herathge, ME Marikar, DDC Alwis, to name a few.
He is no more, but his memory will remain forever in the minds of all those who knew his qualities. He will not be forgotten by the sports-loving public of Kandy.