Photographs by Praneeth Hettiarachchi, FoC Webmaster & Official Photographer
Festival of Cricket 2015 (FoC) was held on Sunday 12th July at Hainault Recreation Ground, Ilford, Essex after months of careful planning and preparations by its organisers.
This new venue was secured with the support of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) that gave the unequivocal support as FoC the premiere Sri Lankan annual Cricketing event in the UK.
The Festival now dubbed most successful Cricket Festival in the UK, attracting thousands of spectators year on year. It promises a day of excellent cricket competition among Sri Lankan OBA’s in the UK and expected to be full of fans and spectators from across the UK, Europe, Sri Lanka and even further afield.
It has taken a distinct Festival atmosphere in addition to its main agenda of the day of playing limited over competitive Cricket play for the FoC Trophy and the Plate of the tournament.
The other attractions of the event are Trade Stalls, Sri Lankan Bazaar, Live Music, Children Entertainments, Display of Sri Lankan Heritage, Cultural Dances and many more activities for the spectators.
FoC endorses goodwill and harmonious relationship among the Sri Lankan Community in the UK. It raises funds for the OBA’s as well as for its beneficiaries: Cancer Research UK , Anthony Nolan Fund and the other Cancer Institutes in Sri Lanka .
Year 2015 saw the 27th anniversary of the FoC since its inception in 1989 with only six participating Old Boy schools from Sri Lanka. This tournament now boasts participation of 31 Sri Lankan OBA’s with expanding membership year by year. The festival has gone from strength to strength during the past 27 years.
This social event has created an opportunity for the commercial sector in our community to support us and becomes a part of the activities. The festival each year has done its best to improve standards and offers best facilities and opportunities for sponsors, trade stall holders and other charitable organisations to join us on the day.
When the gates were opened from 9.00am till late afternoon, the 2015 festival proved testament to this, with many thousands of cricket fans, spectators whom were attending throughout, thanks to well organised Cricket play with a host of tempting fixtures and beautiful mid-summer weather enjoyed by all, despite a number of weather-affected years that is in the distant memory
The Ground was transformed by OBA, Hospitality and Sponsors' Marquees with Trade Stalls, along with plenty of seating areas, well away from the boundary edge. Not to mention the Live -Music play including children entertainments areas.
Number of stalls were selling food, including mouth watering Hoppers and Kothu Rotti, Sri Lankan fresh Fruits and Vegetables, artefacts in abundance and providing useful information for trading were available too.
The welcome ceremony which started at 2.00 pm was also symbolised by the raising of the 31 OBA Flags along with the Sri Lankan, United Kingdom and Festival of Cricket Flags at the Podium.
It depicted the rich cultural atmosphere and the proud Sri Lankan Heritage when a parade of British born Sri Lankan girl dancers with traditional Kandyan and Baratha costumes on, arriving at the podium dancing through gathering spectators and later followed by National Anthems of Sri Lanka and the UK.
Then the traditional Sri Lankan oil lamp was lit by some distinguished officials, invitees and the Sponsors to symbolise a successful tournament, namely: Her Excellency Mrs Chamari Rodrigo - Acting High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in the UK, Mr. Mike Gatting OBE - Cricket Partnership Ambassador for England & Wales Cricket Board. Cllr.Thavathuray Jeyaranjan - Deputy Mayor Redbridge Council , Mr.Chris Whitaker, - Facilities and Investment Manager ECB, Mr.Upul Ekanayake - President FOC 2015, Mr. G. C. Perera - Founder / Life Member FOC, Mr. Methsiri Wijeratne – Longest Serving Committee Member/Event Consultant FOC, Mr. Nimal Fernando - CEO Bank Of Ceylon UK Branch, Mr. Hemaka De Alwis Chairman & Managing Director Fairway Holdings, Mr. Prasad Rosa - Group Managing Director Lyca Fly, Mr. Tarrin Constantine - Director Constantine Associates, Mr. Indunil Wijekoon - Sales Manager Sri Lankan Airlines UK branch
Mr Samantha Siriwardhana, Master of Ceremonies, welcome the distinguished guests in his opening speech and observed a minute of silence in remembrance of young Sri Lankan Cricketer Bavalan Pathmanathan who died tragically while Playing Cricket recently.
The Cricket Tournament was in progress, taking advantage of 10 Cricket pitches with ample of big hitting, non-stop actions, with occasional idyllic ground hoping actions that made a little impact on this limited over game! But there was nothing short of occasional “ huge Sixes “ that disappeared into the tree-line !
Not to mention the excellent catches, costly run-outs, No-balls, lbw etc under the scrutiny of brilliant Umpires including a female Umpire, courtesy of Essex Cricket.
Elsewhere in the ground, spectators appeared to be enjoying Live Band music, dancing and good food in the Hospitality Marquee as well as at the food stalls.
The various FoC sub committee Chairmans and their members were also occupied with running the festival smoothly, especially with Security and Stewarding safety measures and to keep the flow of spectators and the vehicles smooth and efficient
Delegated Official Photographers and the TV cameras from ‘Apekama’ in London and ITV London correspondent were taking care of their active roles too, photographing, filming and occasional interviews with key FOC officials.
Winners of the Charity Raffle Draw including top prizes of six return Air-Tickets, courtesy of Sri Lankan Air Line, were announced. Please visit: www.festivalofcricket.org for details.
FoC produces a special Souvenir to celebrate the occasion. This is sure to be a “joy to read “magazine that is available for free during the Festival. This year's magazine is in A4 format with 100 pages for the first time, telling full story of the event with messages from VIPs, OBA Presidents with Business advertisements to generate some funds for its beneficiaries,
With the matches being spread out over Initial knock out stages, St Peters OBA Team was declared winner of the FoC Champion Trophy, beating Royal OBA by one run in a thrilling final.
As for the FoC Plate Tournament, the winning team is D.S. Senanayake OBA beating Maris Stella OBA.
The jubilant teams were seen to be celebrating their fantastic winning late into the night in a “Carnival Atmosphere’’ too!
FoC President , Mr. Upul Ekanayake, applauded the hard work, commitment, detailed planning of all the Chairmans with the help and support from all the FoC members, who have worked tirelessly with dedications that appear to have borne fruit with the realisation of partnership with the England & Wales Cricket Board.
Photography by Praneeth Hettiarachchi
Follow - Praneeth Hettiarachchi Photography | www.praneeth.co.uk
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