This is the 4th consecutive year of partnership between the two organizations which intends to uplift the standard of cricket in the rural sector, as a means to unearth cricketing talent from both southern and northern parts of Sri Lanka.
The partnership, which began back in 2014 with the setting up of training facilities for children from Hikkaduwa and Seenigama, the home base of Foundation of Goodness (FoG), conducts specialized Cricket Coaching Camps for girls and boys from the area. Mr. Kushil Gunasekera, Founder/Chief Trustee of the Foundation of Goodness approached Tokyo Cement Group, with the vision of a program designed to make a positive impact on the lives of talented young cricketers from remote backgrounds, by enabling them to achieve aspirations of a bright future through a successful sporting career.
The Cricket Academy headed by Mr. Anura De Silva, Head of Sports at FoG conducts programs with cricket coaches and famed local and international cricket stars. These are held at Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala MCC Lords and Seenigama Sri Wimala Buddhi Surrey Oval, two cricket grounds managed and operated by FoG with the sponsorship of Tokyo Cement Group.
The series of monthly trainings are conducted by renowned cricket coach Hemantha Devapriya, trainer of Sri Lanka’s National Women’s Cricket Team. Each year, the program touches over 600 promising cricketers from over 15 regional schools in the area. The funding also sees FoG taking 40 school cricketers from the South, under its wings for an elite training program that will transform them in to National-level Players over time. They comprise of 11 young girls and boys in the U-13 group, 12 in the U-15 group and 17 in the U-17 and U-19 groups who will be groomed to proceed to higher levels with continued high-class coaching and special physical fitness programs provided by the Academy with the assistance of Tokyo Cement Group.
The success of the Southern Cricket Coaching Camp at identifying budding talent saw it being extended to the North of the country from August 2017. The program is now held in Jaffna and other key areas such as Killinochchi, Oddusuddan, Mankulam, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Mannar as well, in search of future cricketing sensations. Plans are underway to extend the program to the East, giving young cricketers from Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts the chance to hone their cricket skills. The North-Eastern Cricket Coaching Camp, also steered by Coach Devapriya and his team, hopes to groom youth from these areas to become future cricket stars who will bring glory to Sri Lanka.
The Academy works hand in hand with school coaches who help identify young cricketers with hidden potential, to be groomed under expert supervision of Mr. Devapriya as a stepping stone to gain national recognition. Over the years, most of the players who attended this program benefitted by way of getting in to the next level, while their schools were promoted to the higher divisions and few players being selected to the District Development Squads.
In addition, the FOG Cricket Academy has produced multiple star-class players such as schoolboy cricketer Haren Buddhila Weerasinghe of St. Aloysius College Galle who represented Sri Lanka Under-19 Team at the 2018 World Cup in New Zealand. He was also selected the Best U-19 schoolboy bowler in the 2017/18 season. Young Navindu Pahasara of Revatha College Balapitiya is another prodigy in the making at the Southern Cricket Academy. His performance which included 07 sixes in 07 balls (including a no ball) in one over during the Murali Goodness Cup U-15 Final in Dec 2017 reached the record books as a World Record for this age group. Miss Kaveesha Dilhari from Devapathiraja Girls Team, also a product of the Academy, was selected to play for the Sri Lanka Women’s National Team during the T-20 series against Pakistan Women’s Team in March 2018. Kaveesha also scored a triple century at the U-19 girl’s school match against Dharmapala Girls in 2018. This was recorded as the first triple century scored by a woman cricketer in the world.
The partnership also saw Tokyo Cement Group being a Co-sponsor of the Murali Harmony Cup conducted in the North for four consecutive years. The brainchild of the legendary cricketer Muthiah Muralidaran, the tournament brings together nearly 400 cricketers representing 16 Boy schools and 8 Ladies Club Teams from the North and South, exposing them to the energy levels of a T-20 style tournament which unites them in the spirit of sportsmanship. Tokyo Cement also extended support to Murali’s initiative with assistance from Sri Lanka Cricket, to construct 30 concrete cricket pitches for schools in the North and East. The idea behind this was to provide opportunities to underprivileged children to showcase their talent and create ethnic and cultural harmony.
Tokyo Cement is a firm believer in the ability of the game of Cricket to build bridges across geographic, ethnic and social barriers, personifying the game’s true spirit. By providing youth from every part of the country an opportunity to unite through the game of Cricket, the company is laying the foundation of brotherhood, understanding and respect which contributes towards building the nation, which remains Tokyo Cement’s primary commitment as the one true leader in the industry.
The Foundation of Goodness is a one of a kind holistic rural development model that currently reaches over 15,000 beneficiaries monthly, from over 200 villages island-wide, through its 30 empowerment activity sectors conducted free of cost at its 9 Village Heartbeat Empowerment Centers and Project Headquarters in Seenigama.