International school cricket in Jaffna: Yarra Valley Cricket Association vs. Jaffna Schools Combined

For the second year running David Cruse, Keith Thompson and G’day Lanka together with the Foundation of Goodness and the facilitation of the Sri Lanka Army, organized an international cricket match for school boys which took place in Jaffna. This match was played as a part of the Yarra Valley Cricket Association Team’s tour of Sri Lanka which also included a stop in Seenigama, at the FoG’s Southern headquarters to play the FoG Seenigama Sports Academy Team in addition to matches in Dambulla and Kandy.

The game, which took place at the Jaffna Central College Grounds is the second such match organized by these parties, following 2013’s match between the Australian Helenic Federation and Melbourne Ferntree Gully Cricket Association Combined Team and Sri Lanka’s North & East Schools Combined Team in Kilinochchi which was the first of its kind to be played in the North after 30 years of conflict. These encounters gave a great deal of exposure to the rural youngsters post-conflict, despite the venues not being anywhere near the standards that the Australians are accustomed to. This being the case, we have to recognize the organizers especially David and Keith for making such a worthwhile initiative materialize twice in collaboration with the Foundation of Goodness and the Sri Lanka Army for much value addition.

The Jaffna match was one full of new experiences for both teams. The Jaffna Schools Combined Team was playing with a foreign team for the very first time, since this was the first Australian cricket team to play in Jaffna after 42 years. As for the youngsters from Melbourne, it was a lot to take in, with the scorching midday heat of Jaffna and the unfamiliar matting which they played on. The Jaffna Schools Combined Team succeeded in scoring 183 runs for 4 wickets and kicked in to high gear defending their score. They managed to get the Australian team all out in 13 overs in to the game for just 52 runs, making good on their home ground advantage. 16 bikes were presented to the Jaffna Team with the contributions of FoG donor Tom Seabrook.

Undeterred, the Yarra Valley Team arrived in Seenigama to face the FoG Sports Academy Team four days later. The friendly game saw the FoG Sports Academy Team take the upper hand, scoring 286 runs for 7 wickets and limiting the Yarra Valley Cricket Association team to 121 runs.

The most important outcome of these games was not the score, or who the winners and losers were. This was an opportunity for the boys to meet people from faraway places and engage in a cultural exchange which was a standout experience for both parties. The Yarra Valley boys and their parents and guardians toured the FoG facilities in Seenigama, learning more about the devastation that took place there during the 2004 tsunami and surely learnt something about the Northern team they played with who had lived through years of conflict.

The Foundation of Goodness is extremely grateful that David Cruse, Keith Thompson and G’Day Lanka continue to organize tours of this nature to continue to expand the horizons of young cricketers worldwide. It must also be clearly stated that without the help of the Sri Lanka Army and the leadership of Major General Udaya Perera, the Security Forces Commander in Jaffna, it would not have been possible to host both international matches in the years 2013 and 2014 as they had seen to all the details of ensuring that such opportunities are created without any further delay for greater empowerment of the Northern Youth.


16th July 2014



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