Royal-Gateway Inaugural Annual Basketball Encounter on Saturday


In order to take basketball to the next level in the island, Royal College and Gateway College have joined hands to inaugurate an annual encounter, which is a popular concept in Sri Lanka to make basketball a spectator sport. This encounter will be a first of its kind where Sri Lanka’s leading National School and one of oldest in the country and a Premier International School and one of the youngest in the island will join hands to lay an excellent platform for students with diverse values, cultures and backgrounds to bond together in healthy rivalry and comradeship.

Basketball is among the most popular sports in the world. It’s a sport which encourages team spirit, solidarity and confidence amongst its players. With this in mind, it’s an ideal sport to bridge gaps and bring the communities together and take forward Sri Lanka as a united and healthier nation.

Basketball was first introduced to Sri Lanka in 1917. In November 1950, the Ceylon Basketball Association was formed with John Exter, the Governor of the Central Bank, as President as there was a need for a strong controlling body to govern the sport with the increased participation in the game. Women’s basketball had been introduced in 1961. Royal College introduced basketball as a sport for students in 1958 and since then, they have produced several national and other level captains, players, coaches and administrators. Gateway though new, with a short history of 12 years with the sport, has contributed much by producing many boys and girls who have represented the country. In both schools, it has been a key sport developing the personality of students and acting as a feeder sport to many other games in the school to improve the physical and psychological skills of other sportsmen.

The annual encounter will be played for the ‘Alles-Gunasekara’ Cup named after two key personalities connected to the two schools. Late R.I.T. Alles, commenced his journey as a teacher of Royal College where he served for over 10 years. Mr. Alles did yeoman service to the country as the Founder Principal of D.S Senanayake College and later as the State Secretary of Education. Remembered by many as one of the finest educators, the country has produced, Alles is also the Founder of Gateway College. Late E. Christie Gunasekara a Royalist himself was a longstanding Vice Principal of Royal College and former President of Sri Lanka Schools Basketball Association who is respected for his unrelenting commitment to uplift discipline and standards of Royal College during his days.

Both schools are keen to make this a unique encounter by introducing a new culture with rich traditions that would include activities for spectator engagement and a joint follow-up social welfare programme. Due attention will be paid to upcoming talent by including an Under 15 match before the main Under 19 encounter. The girls’ invitation under 19 game between Gateway College and Bishop’s College will add colour and diversity to the encounter.

The Royal team captained by Tharindu Pasan Balasooriya has performed well in the season by winning three titles. Initially they won the D.S. Senanayake Challenge Trophy by beating S. Thomas’ in their annual encounter. They also won the National School Games Basketball title and Papare Basketball Championship (TPBC17). They are planning a tour to Malaysia in March.

The Gateway team is captained by Ishira Ritigahapola who had been the captain or vice captain in many champion teams of the school. He has also been the Junior National Champion in Practical Pistol Shooting many years, and represented Sri Lanka at many Foreign Competitions. Last year Gateway College won the All Island Schools Under 17 (A’ Division) Boys basketball championship. The school has been continually done well in Basketball from the junior level upwards and currently has a strong outfit that can turn the tables. Hence the spectator will be able to view quality basketball and an event with colour.

The concept of playing an annual encounter was initiated by Royal College Basketball Advisory and Management Committee. A joint committee including the said committee and Gateway College Basketball Committee are organising the event and they are confident that it will create a platform for more children to develop their personalities through healthy competition and bring the communities of both institutions together, on and off the field.

Esteemed Monash University of Australia and Malaysia will be the Principal sponsor of the encounter. Also (Dialog Axiata) as the digital partner has agreed to live telecast the event. Asiri Group of Companies will be Healthcare Partner and Hyperfactor will be the Digital Media Partner.

The event will be held on Saturday (17) at HSC Blues Basketball Court, Sri Sambuddhathva Jayanthi Mawatha, (Pedirs Park, Havelock Town) Colombo 05 commencing from 3.30 pm onwards.

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