Football is a passion. For some it is life. Those factors and many more polarize opinions and add gloss to arguments. English Premier League is currently the best football league in the world and its popularity is unmatched around the world so much so that its divine touch hasn’t sneaked away from the geographical fringes of Sri Lanka.
Social networking is pigeonholed as evil for its alchemistic effects on tailoring human philosophies, the way they act and time wasting but it can have its benefits. The group English Premier League Fans Of Sri Lanka is a fitting example.
“I have been a Liverpool fan for a long time but I didn’t have a proper way to share my thoughts and ideas about the team and the game I loved so much. As a method of collaboration the group was created in 2007 and initially had a boring start. But after 5 years it has now has gone over 1000 members and is currently a very active group online.” Says Vajira Abeyratna, the creator of the group.
In the early days Sri Lanka was deprived of access to EPL but the introduction of cable has seen a dramatic rise in the numbers which has frozen into the pageantry of EPL. The group which is five years old went a step ahead in organizing a friendly football tournament at Lalith Athuladmudali grounds in Kirulapone. Mostly themed as a meeting up for the members of the group, the football taste was supplemented via the event where six teams Busby Babes (Manchester United), The Pensioners, Roman’s Legion (Chelsea), Anfield Warriors (Liverpool), Arsene’s Faithfuls (Arsenal) and Rest Of The EPL participated consisting of its supporters.
Abeyratna, who is in his final year at La Trobe University in Melbourne and an ambassador for LTU’s Future Students Center had this to say about the tournament which was won by the Manchester United side. “The idea for the tournament came from a few members in the group. After seeing the positive and encouraging comments for the competition we decided to have a pilot 7-a-side tournament as a stepping stone for a bigger tournament for December. With a great attendance rate and large number of positive remarks, the tournament proved to be a massive success. Our next tournament to follow in December will include more teams, more matches and even some sponsors.”
The group includes four administrators from each club and The Chelsea representative Ranga Perera, assistant Manager at Mclaren’s group and who has watched Chelsea play in Malaysia remembers the group’s early days. “I joined the group back in 2008, back then there were only a few Liverpool fans, but now there are fans of various teams with the majority supporting the top EPL sides. I have learned so much about football after joining this group by discussing football with fellow members and the quality of discussion in the group has increased with the influx of new members.”
“At a time when football was not so popular among the Sri Lankan crowd, EPL fans of Sri Lanka provided the perfect platform for football fanatics like us to meet each other and share our views. After all these years we’ve become very good friends even though we indulged in never ending arguments over the years.”
voices Manchester United Administrator and University of Moratuwa graduate, Sunera Kulasekara.
Football can divide nations and if used in an intelligent way it can connect communities too. EPL fans in Sri Lanka certainly belong to the latter league.
The Island Link-English Premier League-The Sri Lankan Touch