Chennai Rotarians at IFCR Festival, COLOMBO

The 5th IFCR (International Fellowship of Cricketing Rotarians) World Festival was successfully held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  After months of debate about whether the festival would happen or not, it did happen and what a festival it was!  Any doubts about whether the festival would maintain its enthusiasm and fellowship was erased with the first step onto Sri Lankan soil.

With the famous hospitality taking over with the bus ride to the hotel, till the last bus ride to the airport, the festival was a fantastic event that showcased everything that Rotary is all about.

The IFCR team from RI Dist. 3230, Chennai, India, had a good half of the team who were first timers to IFCR world festivals.  As a veteran in the IFCR movement with attendance in all the five IFCR festivals, R. Ravi led the young team for fun and fellowship, and incidentally, cricket!

The team had old timers Kittu, Sridhar, Neel, Bala, Shibu and Ravi.  Not to forget our famous lady umpire, Sumathi!  The rest of the team were veteran Rotary players but their first outing to the International Festival.  And were they bowled over!  The spirit of IFCR combined with the amazing movement called Rotary, was a revelation to them, as it continues to be a revelation to all the veterans also.  The fantastic fellowship, the wide variety of Rotarians from all over the world, the wonderful friendship we find in them, the culture we are exposed to, and the acceptance we find in the host country, is only to be experienced to be believed.  That is IFCR in a word – an experience!
The Chennai team started their campaign against the Bangalore Blues at the Nondescript Cricket Club (NCC).  Much as the name suggests, our game went quite the same way with the highest score in Rotary history probably being scored that day.  Since we lost count after 250, the score we reckon probably ended up somewhere in the 300’s in 25 overs. We gave it our best shot and got somewhere close to half way.
Our next match was played at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC), the most coveted and known grounds in Colombo.  A fantastic ground with an equally fantastic history, was a pleasure to play in and even to sit and watch the match.






Ravi hitting a six






The standard of our game lifted just by virtue of being at the famous venue and we gave the New Zealanders a good game.  The delight of seeing our names on the scoreboard at the prestigious SSC, saw the whole team contributing and we ended the innings with the respectable score of 165 in 25 overs.  We did eventually win the match but not without some good fight back from the Kiwis who got within 10 runs of our score.

 The evening function/dinner was organised by the Sri Lankan Tourist Board at the beautiful Lavinia Beach Resort.  Though our bus was the last to reach the venue, the setting simply took our breath away and it all but compensated for the ambience.  What a fantastic idea and what entertainment! I don’t know about the other teams but the Chennai team had a blast that night what with Hindi songs being played as part of the entertainment!

We Indians turned up in whites as it was the eve of our Independence Day.  Wearing white symbolizes a new start and the sense of purity with which we aim to lead our lives.  It presented a great sight to those who had come and gave us a sense of being together, even though we were away from home.  We sang our national anthem after the stroke of midnight and we were immensely pleased to see many of our international counterparts taking part in the celebrations with us!

The next day was a rest day but some of our team members played a friendly match against the Lanka Cavaliers, a team that has some ex-Sri Lanka cricketers.
The Indians scored 145 in 25 overs and they managed to make it in 22 overs with three wickets to go.  They were obviously the better side and we were beaten soundly b ut not without a small fight!  But we hope to continue the good cricket by inviting them to India at some later date.
Lanka Cavaliers

The third match was played at the Wesley Cricket ground against Sri Lanka.  With the interesting pavilion with its railway carriage for the lunch tables, and the camaraderie among the players, it proved to be another enjoyable match for us.  The Sri Lankans managed to hit 165 in 25 overs and the Chennai team had a few nail biting moments towards the end but eventually, we won and Shibu posted the winning runs for us!

The last match was splayed at the CCC ground, against the Australian Redbacks. Fresh after winning their maiden IFCR match against the GB & I team just the previous day, the Australian team looked to carry on their winning streak.  We tried our level best to help them in their quest but there was only so much we could do!  We even introduced a lady member of our team to take the field for a while!  Ann Susan, a former university level cricket player added some glamour and fun to our game.  Chennai had to chase 162 in 25 overs and we managed to get it in style with Susan at the crease!

The closing gala evening dinner was farewell time.  A time to remember our friendships.  A time to cement our relationships across time and countries.  A time to recall the fun times in the tour and in the tours to come.  A time for promises and a time for expectations.  A time for goodbyes and yet a time for smiles.

Many thanks to Nalin and his fantastic team for organising a wonderful festival for all of us.  Many thanks to all the Rotarians who did turn up for the amazing week of fun and fellowship. Congratulations to Neel, Kalyan, JK Mahendra and Ravi for their match winning performances.

See you all at the next Rotary IFCR World Festival in South Africa in 2010!



From the Deccan Herald

Bangaloreans at Rotary Cricket fete

M N Prasad

Nearly 400 cricket loving members of Rotary Clubs from seven nations, number descended on Colombo to share a week of camaraderie, friendship and International fellowship and to play cricket in an easy and friendly atmosphere August 12 and 18.

Rotarians and their families from England, South Africa, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand participated in a week long extravaganza on a common platform provided by the Rotarians of the host nation and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

India was represented by a contingent of 145 members with as many as 68 were from Bangalore alone. Being residents of 'namma Bengaluru', known for friendliness, courteousness and hospitality, the guests from far lost no time in blending themselves with Bangaloreans.

Sixteen teams participated in a two session game of 25 overs each in five picturesque grounds for 6 days. While the motto was “winners all”, for statistical purpose the Bangalore team led by Rajgopal came out unbeaten in all their essays.

With pride and a deep sense of patriotism the Indians celebrated the 60 years of Independence.  Dressed in colourful national costumes, celebrations began on the August 14 evening itself on the golden sandy beach of Colombo with patriotic songs renting the air amidst the international visitors who joined in the fervour which continued well past midnight.

The High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka invited them to join the flag hoisting ceremony on the lawns of his official residence. There was much joy and pride in celebrating India’s Independence Day with some 800 plus visitors from India, who were in Colombo on business or pleasure, congregating on the lawns of the High commission.

This festival of cricket is held once in two years under the aegis of International Fellowship of Cricket loving Rotarians (IFCR) which started during 1992 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Since then five world festivals of cricket have been organised hosted by different countries including one in India during 1999 in Chennai.

The sixth festival will be hosted by South Africa in Durban during September 2009.

(Rotary Club of Bangalore, IFCR representative for Karnataka)