Royalists retain the Lennie de Silva Challenge Cup


Although the sport of hockey at Royal College can be traced to its beginnings in 1915, there is sparse evidence in support. From the sidelines, it emerged as a popular fully-fledged sport in 1955 and gained immense popularity hence forward with continuing momentum. The first captain of the Royal College Hockey Team was Lionel Almeida, and his pioneering efforts of example and precept paved the way for this sport to attain the high standards observed in our college today. The valuable coaching tips and win strategies given by the first captain has been followed until today by successive hockey captains.

The Lennie De Silva Memorial Trophy between Royal College and Kingswood College was first played in the year 2004. Mr. Lennie De Silva, who introduced the game of hockey to Royal College in 1955 is an old boy of Kingswood College Kandy and had served in the both tutorial staffs of Kingswood (1937-19460) and Royal College (1946-1969). He was also a sportsman himself having played cricket, tennis and soccer during his school days at Kingswood College and Government Teachers’ Training College. Since the year 2004, these two Schools have met each other 11 times while Royal College emerging victorious 7 times and Kingswood College emerging victorious once. This encounter has generated much interest and has continuously raised the standards of the game to higher echelons in both schools throughout the past 11 years. This year there were 3 matches played during the evening which were the Under-15 encounter, the Annual Old Boys encounter and the Under-19 encounter. All three encounters were played on Sunday the 13th of November at the Colombo Astro Turf.

The Under-15 match which is played for the Dr. Kathab Roshan Memorial Trophy began at around 2.30pm. Dr. Kathab Roshan, who helped to win many district and national trophies for College during 1991-1995, was one of the best centre forwards produced by Royal. After having completed his medical degree in Russia, he died in July 2005 due to cancer while working as a post-intern doctor at the age of 29. In memory of Dr. Kathab Roshan the two Under-15 teams have been playing this encounter for the last so many years. This year the Royal College Under-15 Team began their dominance in the first half itself by powering 2 shots into the nets. That was more than enough to put the young boys from Kandy under pressure. The first half blitz from Royal did certainly not end since they were able to blast 3 more goals into the net in the second half in quick succession. This left the boys from Kandy with no hope of winning though they had quite a few opportunities of scoring throughout the match. The main player for Royal behind the victory was Sharala Gunathilaka scoring a brilliant hat-trick while Linal Damsilu and Peshala Prabapoorna scoring one goal each respectively.

 

Next was the Annual Old Boys Encounter between the Royal College Old Boys and the Kingswood College Old Boys. The two teams were filled with star studded players with Past Captains, Vice Captains, Coloursmen and Special Award Winners playing for both sides. All eyes were on those players as the crowd expected a scintillating performance. From the start itself, it developed into a fast paced, intense game with a lot of adrenaline pumping exhilaration for both the players and the spectators. The Old Boys from Reid Avenue scored first blood after a few opportunities going down begging. At the end of the first half the score was 1-0 in favor of the Royal College Old Boys. The second half was also no less exciting with both sides going head to head from the blow of the whistle. The lads from Kandy came very hard at their opponents wanting to open their account on the scoreboard. With around 10 minutes remaining in the match the Kingswood Old Boys finally made a breakthrough and went past the net to draw level. This left the Royal College Old Boys with no hope of getting the lead again specially with such little time remaining in the game.

 

The final and most awaited match of the day started at around 4.30pm with the school anthems of both schools being sung in great spirit. The match got underway in quite alarming conditions with both teams going hard at their opponents in order to score first. The boys from Kingswood got a few early chances but the Royal defense was rock solid and did not allow their forwards to go past the defense. Unfortunately that was the same story for the Royal forwards as well since even they weren’t allowed to go past the Kingswood defense in the first half. At half time both teams were unable to score a single goal and went into their respective dressing rooms with the aim of scoring in the second half. Both teams came onto the field with more energy and determination as they did not want to end on the losing side. It was a fierce competition from the start of the second half itself with both teams creating plenty of chances in quick succession. Minutes went passed by as both teams created more opportunities but none of them hitting the back of the net. Frustration increased among players since the score was 0-0 at full time. Then the referees had no choice but to go for extra time of 5 minutes per half in order to get a result. The first half in extra time too concluded without any luck for either team. Things got more heated and tensed since there was only 5 more minutes in the game to score a goal. When things looked really long gone the Royal forward Sachithra Malshan came up with a stunner to score the first goal of the match. This goal bought alive the whole crowd to their feet as it was really unexpected. In the dying moments of the match, Kingswood College was awarded a penalty corner and it was a really tense situation for both sides as it was the final play of the match and definitely could decide the fate of it too. Fortunately for the Royalists it did not hit the back of the net and the celebrations began in the Royal dugout since that was the end of the match. This win meant that the Lennie De Silva Memorial Trophy would be kept at Reid Avenue for one more year and hopefully for the next several years too.

 

The Chief Guest for the evening was Mr. D. Gunawardena who was the Captain of the Royal College Hockey Team in 1970. He represented the College Senior Hockey team first in 1968 and played for the Colombo Schools Team from 1968-1970.  Mr. D. Gunawardena was a 3rd year Coloursmen in Hockey, Marsh House Captain in 1970/71 and also a College Prefect in 1969, 1970 and 1971. He awarded the Dr. Kathab Roshan Memorial Trophy to the Royal College Under-15 Captain Nadil Wijewardena and then the Lennie De Silva Memorial Trophy to the Royal College Under-19 Captain Sajana De Zoysa who gracefully accepted the trophy from him. All in all it was a great day for all Past and Present Royalists since this win meant that 3 out of the 4 Annual Encounters have been successfully faced by the College Under-19 Hockey Team with one more Annual Encounter yet to be played.