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Botham back to cheer tsunami survivors

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Former England cricketer Ian Botham is welcomed by musicians during his visit to the Foundation of Goodness sports complex.
Former England cricketer Ian Botham is welcomed by musicians during his visit to the Foundation of Goodness sports complex.

Karthik Krishnaswamy

The visit was part of Laureus’s ‘Sport for Life’ project

Seenigama Oval was built two years ago with the funding of Surrey County Club

Seenigama (SRI LANKA): Sporting a garland of flowers, led through a guard of honour of schoolchildren by a group of traditional Sri Lankan drummers, Sir Ian Botham arrived at the Seenigama Oval here on Wednesday.

England’s greatest all-rounder was in Sri Lanka on a two-day trip, five years after he had visited in the wake of the tsunami that had struck on December 26, 2004, as part of a team invited by Laureus Sport for Good Foundation to help start its ‘Sport for Life’ project in Seenigama, a village an hour’s drive northwest of Galle, aided by the Sri Lankan NGO Foundation of Goodness.

Communities re-uniting

Remarking on the progress made by the project since his first visit, Sir Ian noted that the communities torn apart by the disaster were now re-uniting.

“The communities have come back together. When we were here 5-6 weeks after the tsunami, villagers two hundred yards apart weren’t talking, everyone had gone insular, traumatised, and all had their grieving to do, their losses, there was no communication … So we felt that maybe sport was a vehicle to bring these villages back together,” he said. “That was our way in.”

The Seenigama Oval, built two years ago with the funding of Surrey County Club, is perhaps the project’s most lustrous success symbol.

Coached on its lush-green outfields fringed by coconut trees, the Seenigama under-15 cricket team won the Super 8 -KAF Invitation tournament in Kuala Lumpur last month.

Her strokes honed at the adjacent Bryan Adams swimming pool, funded by the Canadian pop singer, 18-year-old Dilanjali won the prestigious All-island six-mile sea swim two months ago.

Special watch

In addition to watching an under-13 inter-school Twenty20 game at the Oval, Botham gave away a prize to 12-year-old Sriyan Chamod Dilshan, who won the Laureus Sport for Good-IWC watch drawing contest.

An engraving of Sriyan’s drawing, entitled Team Spirit, will grace a limited-edition watch from Swiss manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen, one of Laureus’ global partners.

IWF will donate part of the proceeds from the watch’s sales to Laureus-supported projects.

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