Hoping to start a long-lasting tradition between the two schools akin, Royal College and Gateway College will play in the inaugural Alles-Gunasekara Cup basketball encounter next week.
The trophy has been named after two eminent educationists the late R. I. T. Alles and late E. C. Gunasekara, both of whom have strong links to both the schools, and will be contested for on February 17 at the Henry Pedris Basketball Courts.
Both schools hope the encounter, which is a rarity - for a national school and an international school to engage in an annual encounter in any sport - would be akin to school cricket and rugby ‘Big Matches’ that are popular in the country.
Dr Harsha Alles, Chairman of Gateway College, said that he took pride in being asked by one of the premier state schools to inaugurate an annual basketball encounter.
“I for one believe all schools should work together be they state schools, private schools or international schools. In that respect for us to have an annual encounter with Royal College, the premier state school in Sri Lanka is in fact is something that makes us proud. I believe this is the first instance that a state school has come forward to play in an annual encounter with an international school,” Dr. Alles said.
Dr. Alles also said that the encounter was in line with what the late R. I. T. Alles and late E. C. Gunasekara believed constituted a well-rounded education.
“Alles and Gunasekara, who were very good friends in 1960-70s, would be very happy to see something like this happening, because they were both believers in an all-round education where sports plays a very important role,” Dr. Alles said.
Principal of Royal College B. A. Abeyrathne meanwhile said that this would be an ideal occasion to foster a good relationship between the schools.
“This encounter I am sure will create a good camaraderie between the two schools, and also be an example for other schools and other sports,” Abeyratne said.
The late R. I. T. Alles began his journey as a teacher at Royal College, where he served for over a decade, before going on to found D. S. Senanayake College and then Gateway College.
The late Gunasekara having served as the schools’ long standing Vice-Principal of Royal College and was also instrumental in the promotion of basketball at school level, having served as the President of the Sri Lanka Schools Basketball Association.
Both schools have strong basketball teams – Royal were Under-19 schools champions this year, while Gateway won the All-Island Schools Under-17 ‘A’ Division Championship last year.
The encounter will be preceded by an Under-15 encounter between the two schools, and a Girls’ encounter between Gateway and Bishop’s College Colombo.
Rohini Alles, wife of the late R. I. T. Alles will be the Chief Guest while the Guest of Honour will be Jack Johnston, Regional Manager - Asia of Monash University, who are the principal sponsors of the encounter.