“Since princes will have such things, it is better they should be graced with elegancy, than daubed with cost.” – Francis Bacon –
The 28th of March saw the successful completion and handing over of one of the largest infrastructure development projects in the history of Royal College. With the opening of the Royal – MAS Arena, Royal College will be the first ever school in the country to have a world class indoor sports facility. The project was completed at a cost of approximately one million US Dollars in 999 days by the skilled workforce of the 4th Engineer Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army (it is interesting to note that the construction of the Royal Primary School Hall – ‘Navarangahala’ was carried out by the same). This one of a kind venture was commenced under the leadership of three eminent old Royalists, the founders of MAS Holdings Deshamanya Mahesh Amalean, Mr. Sharad Amalean and Mr. Ajay Amalean along with Mr Dian Gomes, former Director at MAS with the guidance of then Principal Mr. Upali Gunasekara and the support of the former Army Commander Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya. The modernistic design for the arena was drawn up by the project’s architect Mr. Nandana Karunasena.
The arena consists of facilities to accommodate a variety of indoor sports, mainly Boxing, Karate, Wushu, Gymnastics, Fencing, and Wrestling. One feature of special note is the Gymnastics pit, built to international standards, the first of its kind in the country. The arena can accommodate an audience of 1000. The state of the art seating system can be retracted in order to change the configuration when needed.
The vibrant opening ceremony took place in the presence of distinguished statesmen which included the Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Minister of Education, Hon. Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and the Mayor of Colombo, His Worship A. J. M. Muzammil. The audience was welcomed by the Secretary of the Royal College Union Mr. Athula Munasinghe who also thanked his predecessors for the immense amount of effort they had put into the project. Subsequently, the Principal Mr. B. A. Abeyrathna spoke of the privilege the student fraternity at Royal has to have such a generous community of alumni. The Prime Minister in his speech expressed his contentment about the facilities that Royalists at present enjoy in comparison to his time in College. He also spoke of his plans for revising the country’s education system and the importance of introducing facilities such as the Royal – MAS Arena to schools around the country which are in need of them. The three Amalean brothers were thanked by him with a quote from the College Song: “they have repaid the debt they owed”.
Speaking to the audience on behalf of MAS Holdings and the Amalean family, Chairman, Deshamanya Mahesh Amalean stated that it was an absolute honour for him and his brothers to give back to College and thanked everyone involved for all the support rendered.
Former RCU Secretary Mr. Manju Ariyaratne spoke of the journey which lead to the fruition of the initial idea of having an indoor sports complex for Royal which dates back to the year 2010 when Royal College celebrated its 175th anniversary.
A wide variety of musical and dramatic entertainment acts and sports displays (Karate, Wushu, and Boxing) added colour to the day’s proceedings. The exhibition boxing bout took place between current captain U. M. B. Neranjana and former captain K. Sindujan.
The vote of thanks was presented by the Head Prefect Senith Abeyanayake who ended by stating that “As our College Anthem says, we the loyal sons now bear the torch and it is up to us to pass it down burning brighter than before. This million Dollar facility was given for a reason. It is now our responsibility to use it to create the future batch of Crownsmen and Coloursmen and protect and entrust it to the future batches of Royalists”.