Kushil Gunasekera reaches out to cricketers in north and east | Sunday Observer

Kushil Gunasekera reaches out to cricketers in north and east

1 November, 2020
Young cricketers at practices
Young cricketers at practices

Former first class cricketer and Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Kushil Gunasekera who started the Foundation of Goodness and Tokyo Cement Group extended their partnership that has taken them to reach out to players in the north and east of the country.

The company’s partnership with the Foundation of Goodness (FoG) established cricket training facilities that included upgrading two school grounds in Hikkaduwa and Seenigama in the Galle district.

Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala and Seenigama Sri Wimala Buddhi are the two cricket grounds that are managed and operated by FoG under the patronage of Tokyo Cement Group, where regular training sessions are held.

Budding school cricketers in the area have been welcomed to enroll themselves for regular coaching camps conducted free of cost by renowned coaches at the two training centers that have indoor and outdoor practice nets.

Founded on the vision of Kushil Gunasekera, Founder/Chief Trustee, the Foundation of Goodness and the Tokyo Cement Group partnership intends to make a positive impact on the lives of talented young cricketers from remote backgrounds who have very limited access to quality training facilities to pursue their dreams.

Anura de Silva, Director of Sports at the Foundation of Goodness heads the Cricket Academy together with a pool of coaches and qualified physical trainers. The special monthly training sessions are conducted by renowned cricket coach Hemantha Devapriya, a former Head Coach of Sri Lanka’s women’s team, with his team of cricket coaches. From time to time, the Academy gets the services of famed local and international cricket stars who get involved in the programme on a voluntary basis.

Since inception, the Academy has so far trained over 1,100 promising young cricketers from nearly 20 regional schools in the area. The Southern Coaching Camp has produced several top-notch National U19 players who now represent various Division One clubs in the country.

In August 2017, the partnership extended the coaching camps to the North and East of the country conducting programmes in Jaffna, Killinochchi, Oddusuddan, Mankulam, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Mannar, Batticaloa, Kalmunai and Ampara, to unearth young cricketing sensations.

Speaking on the impact the Cricket Academy makes on the lives of young school boys and girls, Anura de Silva pointed out that having access to top quality training facilities under the wings of world class coaching expertise is itself a great contribution to uplift the future of Sri Lankan cricket.

He also said the success of the Academy lie in allowing these novices to maintain and polish up their natural style in either bowling, batting or fielding, so that they grow in confidence, as much as in their skill while undergoing the coaching programme.

The number of cricketers who have risen from District and Provincial level to various National-level teams speak volumes for the Academy’s ability to unearth cricketing talent.

Among them is Navod Paranavithana who is the Sri Lanka U-19 World Cup opener and captain of the Mahinda College team who shattered the batting records by becoming the first schoolboy to score a quadruple century in a school match.

Paranavithana joined the Cricket Academy at U-13 level and is a recipient of an MCC Cricket scholarship offered through The Foundation of Goodness.

Kavisha Dilhari is another 17-year-old cricketing prodigy hailing from the Academy, who created the record as the youngest schoolgirl cricketer to score a triple century at school level and also became the youngest player to represent Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, four young cricketers from the Seenigama squad were selected to play for Sri Lanka at the Women’s Cricket World Cup 2020 in Australia.

With the extension of the partnership this year, Tokyo Cement Group and the Foundation of Goodness will continue the training sessions that gives schoolboy and schoolgirl cricketers the chance to hone their dormant skills. During this year the FoG has completed 12 coaching camps in the South, maintaining the training momentum of the players while looking after the facilities despite the many disruptions that occurred.

The Foundation of Goodness conducts a wide range of holistic development programmes aimed at bridging the urban rural gap, that touch the lives of over 31,500 beneficiaries annually, free of cost, from over 400 villages island-wide.