End of May Bank holiday in Britain became an inscription in the Sri Lankan expatriate calendar in 1989 when an assembly of old boy cricketers organised a Festival of Cricket to stretch a financial helping hand to their alma mater at home, as much as to cater for Sri Lankan community in Britain to come together once a year and to engage themselves in social intercourse. Ten-school participation, which started a decade ago, from Maori Cricket Club grounds at Worcester Park, Surrey has gone through many modifications and diversification to establish the Festival of Cricket as the most popular Sri Lankan social event in the UK. This is self evident from the vast amount of crowed that throng, from all over England, Scotland and Wales, to its new venue at Norman Park, Bromley, Kent.
In 1989, the Organising Committee announced that their first attempt fired the inspiration of better things to come. Keeping up to their promise changes have taken place from the original venue in Surrey to a new locale in Kent with an increase in the number of participating schools, with a bonus of some of the professional cricketers from the National team taking part from time to time. With regard to the general public, trade marquees have increased giving access to more and more Sri Lankan goods and food, direct from the homeland to meet a high consumer demand; it has created new channels for the expatriate community to open NRFC accounts from England, other than through the Bank of Ceylon, given access to luxury flats purchases in Sri Lanka, Insurance as well as Investment opportunities, to name a few. As usual the Charity fund to assist the Maharagma Cancer Hospital has been the most effective and popular charity out of the FOC ; a blood scanner has been donated to the hospital through the generosity of fellow Sri Lankans living in England.
There is no esprit in any Sri Lankan cricketing atmosphere without its fair share of cheer, jeer and entertainment, particularly in terms of music and associated baila singing and dancing. Although this type of entertainment existed in the past ten years in small doses, confined to individual school marquees, the singing and dancing was directly proportional to amount of talent within each tent and the amount of consumed alcohol levels at any given time!
This year, however, something different, something novel and something new is going to fuse with the department of entertainment at the FOC with the emergence of a young Sri Lankan group - Fusion. Fusion is going to be a sub event, which will add a new dimension in terms of entertainment at the Cricket Festival in 1999. It is the brainchild of three young university undergraduates, Janaka Abeywardena, Nilantha Ariyasena and Andy Pearson.
Fusion is a non-profit making organisation whose objectives are to provide an alternative form of quality music, appealing mainly to the younger generation. This is an area, which has been overlooked by many organisers of Sri Lankan events in the past. Fusionıs idea is to act as a catalyst to the FOC in attracting more of the younger generation to this bank holiday social event of Sri Lankans.
How are they going to achieve their goal? Fusion is going to magnetise the young from various backgrounds to a type of music, which is culture independent to a large extent. They believe firmly that it would also attract more of a mixed crowed including other ethnic groups with various backgrounds and age groups. This will evidently give the youth cultural exposure and simultaneously narrows the generation gap by bringing young and the old together under a single event in a friendly and family atmosphere.
The Trio, Janaka, Nilantha, Andy, is confident of their success because they are an already experienced Disc Jokey outfit operating under MCB3. They have been performing regularly at numerous events and a monthly event; R&B-Hip Hop-Garage Night called "The Conflict" at the University of Hertfordshire.
On an individual basis the Trio has performed many events at various universities, pubs, wine bars and clubs such as Beverleyı Knight at the University of Surrey, Coolio University of Herts, Hinda Hicks at the University of Hertfordshire etc.
FOC had the first brief taste of the Fusion at very short notice in 1998 through St. Thomasıs marquee. In 1999 they are well organised and well prepared and are looking forward to entertain over seven thousand crowd from 12 noon to 18 hrs, with a blend of R &B, Swing, Soul, Hip Hop, Ragga, Regga, UK George and a wee bit of Chart Party music with the help of several DJs. The Trio will be the Master of the Ceremonyı. Another attraction here would be the opportunity for crowd participation - wherever there is talent on the microphone. As an additional bonus Fusion is planing a Charity Raffle ( to be nominated) on the same day.
Undoubtedly, there is spark an interest in many youths to get involved in a new idea of this nature and for this very reason Fusion treats this golden opportunity as their first step in getting involved in the FOCıs activities in the next millennium.
Nothing is simple in this world, especially when a project is in its infant stages. This exactly is the problem faced with this young group who have been thinking ahead and forward planning to the next millennium. Todayıs youth is certainly the society tomorrow. In this respect the first generation of Sri Lankans will need to open their eyes wide and look ahead and give the young every encouragement and support, morally and financially, in projects which are going to be for the benefit of our own community.
Fusion is desperate for funds, especially members being university students and are seeking sponsors from various Sri Lankan sources. Old Boys Associations who are the kin pin of holding the Festival of Cricket are well advised to look into this matter very seriously as Fusion being a completely non-profit making outfit and particularly a group of undergraduates making a commendable attempt to lift up the FOC and make the event a far reaching and successful event in the years to come.
According to Fusion they are not asking the sun, moon and the earth but their need is £550 only to cover their costs for the day. Perhaps individual contributions from each 18 OBAıs - say each OBA contributing £30 - and the FOC Committee giving a hand to these youths by writing off their cost for the tent, they feel they could easily cover their expenses.
Here is an opportunity for any company or individual who is able to see the good impact of second generation of Sri Lankans merging with the first generation to go hand in hand in England in the next millennium. The cardinal point which needs to be penetrated into every Sri Lankan mind is that we are a small community in England, and it is high time that we unite together and work together to be seen as a one single community of Sri Lankans for the world to see in the next millennium. It would be disastrous to misunderstand Fusion concept and to dismiss it thinking that it would be inappropriate and it does not relate to Cricket or Sri Lankan culture but by recognising and helping them would give the second generation of Sri Lankans in Britain a sense of confidence in our community to get involved in the future for many things to come.
You can visit the Fusion web site at http://www.jnet.dircon.co.uk/fusion/pages/main.html