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St. Benedict's College :

Yearning for a playground...

by Elmo Leonard

St. Benedict's College Colombo (SBC) in existence since 1865 and reputed for having produced a galaxy of sportsmen from cricketers to footballers, hockey players, basketballers and athletes is abruptly sans a playground.

History


A peripheral drain under construction

This educational institution which is 140 years old has gone back to the 1920's.

For, it was in the 1920's that through the repeated appeals to Colombo's City Fathers, the a Bloemandhall Road marsh was offered to the school as a playground. Prior to that, all the school's sport activities, including cricket and athletics were cramped into the college quadrangle.

The Bloemandhall Road playground was waterlogged when the rains came down; the SBC footballers and hockey players specialised in wet-condition play.

With the building of the Sugathadasa outdoor and indoor stadiums and the ongoing boom in building construction around Kotahena, the ground water level has risen and the playground remains waterlogged, half of the year. An in-depth study of the problem was initiated by past Benedictine, Anura Vithanage, Director of Engineering and Laboratory Services (Pvt) Ltd (ELS).

The study was carried out by a team headed by Prof. B. L. Tennekoon of the University of Moratuwa and included chartered civil engineer and consult hydrologist D. A. J. Ranwala. Conforming to the recommendations by civil and soil engineers from ELS the ground is in the process of refurbishment.

Project

On inquiry, we were told that what is ongoing is phase I.

It includes: Raising the ground level by three feet; rerouting of the sewer lines presently running across the ground, away from it; providing an internal drain system; the construction of a peripheral drain system; providing additional outlets to the Municipal storm water lines. Acquiring adjoining land for future expansion of sports facilities and roadway and parking space.

When the ground is completed, for cricket, there will be five turf pitches plus, two practice turf pitches with nets, two cemented pitches and a matting pitch. Phase I of a master plan drawn out by past Benedictine architect Dudley Waas was begun June and scheduled to end February next year. The Rs. 25 million ($250,000) estimated has fallen far short.

The College authorities have thanked the parents, past students, overseas branches and well-wishers for their kind contributions. Now, the director of St. Benedict's has to hire playgrounds over 25 miles from Colombo, in Negombo and Veyangoda over for the team's cricket and football practices.

The College authorities have appealed even to Sri Lanka Cricket and Football Federation of Sri Lanka for assistance. As a fund raising project, the Old Boys' Union solicits donations from Benedictines and well-wishers.

Tickets in denominations of Rs. 5,000, Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 1,000 could be purchased towards this cause. Payments could be made by cheques drawn in favour of "St Benedict's College Development Fund" crossed A/c payee only.

For details, please contact: Randolph Perera, Chairman, Fund Raising Project, Canroe Exports, 440, K. Cyril C. Perera Mawatha, Colombo 13. Tel: 2435667, 0777787187 e-mail: randyp@stnet.lk


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