Australian Hellenic Federation plays the North Combined Team in Mankulam

The Sri Lankan cricket tour for Australian school boys, including a match played in the post-war north of Sri Lanka was first introduced by Mr. David Cruse and Mr. Keith Thompson two years ago in 2013. David and Keith had previously organized a number of such tours to Sri Lanka during the war, but had never been able to venture to the north for a cricket match due to the conflict.

The 2013 match was a ground breaking event which took place in Kilinochchi, and was the first international school boy match to be played in the north following the 30 year conflict that disrupted the lives, education and sporting opportunities for countless Sri Lankan children and youth.

This was followed up in 2014 by a match in Jaffna, and the northern games have now become a yearly tradition as the group visited Sri Lanka once more in June 2015, and made sure to play a match in Mankulam.

The Australian Hellenic Federation team faced off against the North Combined Team at the Mankulam Maha Vidiyalayam cricket grounds, located in the Mullaitivu District. The returning teams have made an effort to visit the different cricket grounds across northern Sri Lanka.

Playing in northern Sri Lanka is a completely new experience for the Australian lads, competing in blistering heat on the parched grounds against northern teams who are valiantly striving to reach international standards after a 30 year handicap during which time they were unable to develop their game is an eye opening experience. Win or lose, both sides walk away after being part of an incredible learning experience.

This year, for the first time since these matched began in 2013, the Australian team were able to walk away with the win as the North Combined Team scored 105 all out, in 20 overs and the Australians scored 106, getting the last winning run from the last ball of their innings, for 8 wickets.

Another tradition of these games is for the visiting team to present the home team with bicycles, and the Australian Hellenic Federation Team were delighted to gift a bike to each of the North Combined players following the match.

Bicycles are an important commodity for the northerners, and is the principle mode of transport. Most of the kids do not have their own bikes, while some are forced to share one bike as a family, there are others who have to walk everywhere or rely on sparse public transport.

The gift of a bike is a wonderful prize for the boys playing in the North Combined Team, and the money for the bikes are collected by the Australian boys and their families and handed over after the match, which goes on to emphasize that the biggest take away from this is the friendship and sense of comradery between the teams, rather than a win.

For the Australians, this is a wonderful chance to truly understand and appreciate the opportunities that they have been freely given in life, and strive to make the most of it upon realizing how hard these northern kids have had to struggle in order to have a life of normalcy and get the chance to play cricket. For the northern team, it is a wonderful occasion to test their skill against a foreign team, a rare opportunity indeed!

At the conclusion of yet another extremely successful match, we would like to express our most sincere thanks to Mr. David Cruse and Mr. Keith Thompson for their tireless effort in organizing this tour every year, not forgetting all the help extended by Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe and the Sri Lanka Army in facilitating the event. We hope to see similar events take place in the coming years, which will be a great boost towards developing rural cricket in Sri Lanka, a cause close to our hearts at the Foundation of Goodness.



28th July 2015



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