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Brothers Murali and Prabu Empower Rural Nuwara Eliya with the Foundation of Goodness

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Muttiah Muralitharan with Kushil Gunasekara, the former cricket board secretary and renowned philanthropist. 

Sri Lanka’s Nuwara Eliya District is famed for its picturesque views, flourishing tea estates and awe inspiring waterfalls. The colder climate also makes it a favourite destination among local and international visitors. However, among the beauty of this district are rural communities that struggle everyday to afford their basic necessities.

This district is home to some of the most under-served rural Sri Lankan communities, consisting mostly of tea estate workers and daily wage earners. Unfortunately, these communities are often marginalized with little or no support to elevate them from the vicious cycle of poverty that they are trapped in.

It is against this backdrop that the Foundation of Goodness recently established not just one but three Village Heartbeat Empowerment Centres in Ragala, Kothmale and Hatton in the Nuwara Eliya District. These Empowerment Centres provide free educational, vocational and sports courses such as English Language training, dressmaking, computer training and STEM education, and act as the nerve centre of the village by empowering its population. These new skills provide a step up for rural beneficiaries to better their lives and open new doors of opportunity.

Recently, the Foundation of Goodness together with Founder Kushil Gunasekera and Centre sponsors, Trustee Muthiah Muralidaran, Muthiah Prabagaran and Snackings (Pvt) Ltd declared open the Kothmale and Hatton Centres.

“Murali is someone very passionate about giving and caring for the less privileged and since both Murali and his brother Prabu pledged to establish these productive village empowerment centres, they delivered their promise to match their word of honour. He is well aware of the prevailing circumstances in the tea estate communities and as such the numbers registered exceeding 4,000 is a record breaking achievement from all our 15 centres that demonstrates the need to provide facilities of this kind for their progress,” said Kushil Gunasekera.

The Centre in Ragala located in a tea estate will benefit 1150 rural villagers from 14 villages in the locality. The Kothmale Centre has registered over 1721 rural villagers from 20 villages while the Hatton VHE Centre will empower 1198 villagers from 11 villages.

In total, these Centres will benefit over 4,000 rural Sri Lankans from 45 villages, giving them access to opportunities brought by the Foundation of Goodness that go beyond educational and vocational training, such as educational scholarships, overseas competitions and mentorship.

The total number of Village Heartbeat Empowerment Centres established across Sri Lanka by the Foundation of Goodness now stands at 14, empowering over 10,971 rural beneficiaries from 150 villages.

The Foundation of Goodness recognises the extraordinary contribution made towards growing our reach to the central highlands of Sri Lanka by Trustee Muthiah Muralidaran together with his brother Muthiah Prabagaran and Snacking PVT Ltd. Murali always keeps FoG in his heart and over the years, he has donated the entirety of many of his endorsement fees and has now launched his Cameo celebrity promotions exclusively in aid of FoG, ensuring that thousands of rural Sri Lankans across the island receive empowerment courses free of charge, urgent medical and welfare needs and helps improve rural sports development. He constantly promotes the Foundation of Goodness and truly believes in the vision for a better Sri Lanka.

The Foundation of Goodness was established in 1999 and has worked extensively to develop a one of a kind holistic rural community development model that seeks to bridge the urban-rural divide. In 2021 alone, despite struggles brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Foundation of Goodness delivered a wide range of programmes to over 68,000 beneficiaries from 900+ villages across Sri Lanka, free of charge. In addition to its flagship venue and project headquarters, the OYOB Centre of Excellence and Sports Academy in Seenigama, the Foundation of Goodness has also branched out to offer its key courses and resources to distant rural villages via Village Heartbeat Empowerment Centres which strive to empower disadvantaged communities so that they may have equal opportunities to excel in life. As the nerve centre of the village, the Village Heartbeat concept works to give underprivileged villagers access to skills that will enable them to develop to their full potential.



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Naseem, bowlers take Pakistan to series win against Sri Lanka

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Pakistan survived an early wobble with the bat to ease to a seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka, wrapping up a series win with a game to spare. In a game that almost felt like a carbon copy of the first, Sri Lanka won the toss and batted first, only for a tight, disciplined bowling performance from the hosts, limiting them to a sub-par 102. Just like the first game, there was a touch of circumspection about Pakistan’s chase to begin with, losing three early wickets. But a classy partnership between Ayesha Naseem and Bismah Maroof took control of the proceedings, their unbeaten stand yielding 70 runs off 58 balls, and a game that looked like it would get bogged down finished in a hurry.

As in the first game, Sri Lanka lacked intent at the start, and Pakistan were all over them in the powerplay. The first five overs saw just 14 runs scored, and Anam Amin removed Chamari Athapaththu once more. Nida Dar struck soon after to dismiss Oshadi Ranasinghe, leaving Sri Lanka to try and regroup while they were well behind the asking rate.

Last match’s star Tuba Hassan was responsible for the removal of Sri Lanka’s top scorer Hasini Perera, and was the pick of the bowlers once more, allowing just 13 runs in her four overs. As each of the Pakistan bowlers chipped in with a wicket, the Sri Lankan batting began to fall away. In a somewhat insipid, uninspiring innings, the visitors stumbled to 102.

Pakistan lost Gull Feroza early, thanks to a sensational diving catch from Nilakshi De Silva, and for a while, it looked like that might charge Sri Lanka to a spirited defence of a low total. Muneeba Ali, who wasn’t quite able to find her timing, fell trying to sweep Inoka Ranaweera to fine leg, and soon after, the belligerent Iram Javed got a leading edge of Ranasinghe, leaving Pakistan tottering at 34 for 3. The asking rate, too, had begun to flirt with a run a ball, meaning Maroof and Naseem, two new batters, had significant pressure on their shoulders.

They, too, began with caution, aware that taking the game deep would only help the hosts. Once they got their eye in, the pair seemed to have set defined roles for themselves, with Maroof taking a back seat while Naseem took the attack to Sri Lanka. It was after the 15th over that Pakistan really began to move through the gears, a stunning back-foot six by Naseem setting the tone for what was to come. Sloppiness crept into the Sri Lankans’ game, too, epitomised by five careless overthrow runs that brought Pakistan to within ten runs of victory.

The win was sealed with an aerial slap off Ranasinghe by Naseem that landed just inside the rope as she finished with an unbeaten 45 off 31 balls, with the last 28 runs coming off just ten balls. The result means Pakistan have the chance to seal a clean sweep when the sides meet again for the final T20 on Saturday.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka Women 102 for 6 (Hasini Perera 35, Tuba Hassan 1-13) lost to Pakistan Women 104 for 3 (Ayesha Naseem 45*, Bismah Maroof 22*, Achini Kulasuriya 1-11) by seven wickets

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Asitha rips through Bangladesh as Sri Lanka win Test series

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Asitha Fernando finished with a career-best six for 51 as Sri Lanka thrashed hosts Bangladesh by ten wickets in the second Test yesterday to win the two match series 1-0.The visitors bowled out Bangladesh for 169 runs in their second innings with 24-year-old Asitha playing a starring role at the National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka.

“We knew we needed a couple of wickets to go our way,” said Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne.

“The fast bowlers did the job for us, both in the first innings as well as the second.”

Sri Lanka made 506 runs in the first innings after bowling out Bangladesh for 365.

Oshada Fernando sealed the devastating win with an unbeaten 21 in three overs.Play had resumed on the fifth and final day with the hosts at a precarious 34-4 and Sri Lanka upped the pressure when Kasun Rajitha bowled Mushfiqur Rahim for 23 in the eighth over.Shakib Al Hasan and Liton Das both hit fifties in a 110-run stand and held on through the first session with a mix of caution and aggression.

Shakib’s counter-attack saw him hit Rajitha for three fours in one over, forcing Sri Lanka to widen their field set-up, while Liton played an anchor role after resuming on one overnight.Liton was given out caught behind off Rajitha on nine as he attempted to flick a ball going down the leg, but survived on review.It was the fourth caught behind decision overturned in the match, all given by West Indies umpire Joel Wilson.

A counter-punching Shakib brought his 27th Test fifty in the last ball before lunch with a boundary off Dhananjaya de Silva, before Asitha drove the hosts’ collapse after lunch.He took the scalps of both Liton and Shakib soon after the break, claiming four of the last five wickets after dispatching openers Mahmudul Hasan Joy and Tamim Iqbal the previous day.Ramesh Mendis trapped Mosaddek Hossain for nine before Asitha wrapped up the Bangladesh innings with the wickets of Taijul Islam and Khaled Ahmed in successive deliveries.

“A disappointing performance,” said Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque.

“They put us under pressure with the new ball, we’ll have to handle it better next time,” he added.

Asitha conceded 144 runs for his first 10-wicket Test match haul, with 4-93 in the first innings.He and Rajitha had Bangladesh reduced to a pitiful 24 for five at the start of the first day before Mushfiqur (175 not out) and Das (141) staged a recovery.But Sri Lanka rode on man of the series Angelo Mathews (145 not out) and Dinesh Chandimal’s 124 to take a commanding 141-run first-innings lead.

Bangladesh collapsed again at the start of their second innings, losing the first four wickets for 23 runs to leave Sri Lanka in full control.The first Test in Chittagong ended in a draw.Bangladesh will now tour West Indies for two Tests, three Twenty20 internationals and three one-day internationals starting in June.Sri Lanka host Australia next month — despite anxieties about the island nation’s protracted economic crisis — for three T20Is, five ODIs and two Tests.

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Yupun continues record-breaking spree  

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Yupun Abeykoon improved the men’s 100metres national record at a championship held in Germany on Wednesday.

Sri Lankan is the Asian leader

by Reemus Fernando  

Italy based sprinter Yupun Abeykoon continued his record-breaking spree at a championship in Dessau, Germany as he clocked the fastest time in the men’s 100 metres in Asia this year to win ahead of Kenyan world leader Ferdinand Omanyala on Wednesday.

Abeykoon, who is also the South Asian record holder in the 100 metres clocked 10.06 seconds to win as he took a good chunk of 0.09 seconds off his previous national record.

It is the third time that the 27-year-old has improved the national record in 100 metres.

Abeykoon first took the national record of the 100 metres (10.16 secs) in 2020 before improving it to 10.15 seconds last year.

Abeykoon’s 10.06 seconds is the fastest time in Asia this year as he overtook Abdullah Abkar Mohammed (10.14) of Saudi Arabia and Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (10.15) of Japan who had both produced their seasonal best in March.

With Abeykoon winning the 100 metres against a quality field inclusive of Ferdinand Omanyala, who had clocked a world-leading time of 9.85 seconds early this month, it is expected that the South Asian Games medallist would produce the tough qualifying standard of 10.05 seconds for the World Championship soon rather than later.

Athletes are selected for the World Championship through direct qualifying standards and through the world rankings. Of the 48 slots allocated for the track’s showpiece discipline, 27 are selected from those who achieve the tough qualifying standard of 10.05 seconds, for which Abeykoon is just a millisecond behind.

The remaining slots are filled according to the ‘Road to Oregon 2022’ list in which Abeykoon is placed in the 58th position at present. That ranking is set to improve when stats are updated next week.

Abeykoon’s remarkable achievements have come at a time when some of the country’s promising athletes struggle to improve their rankings due to lack of quality competitions here in Sri Lanka.

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