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British Tamil sports festival returns

British Tamil sports teams competed at the 20th annual sports festival on May 29 for trophies in football, volleyball and netball. The event was hosted by the British Tamil Sports League (BTSL), which took it over from the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO).

The BTSL, formed in 2004 to manage leagues for Tamil Diaspora football tournaments, now also conducts those for volleyball and netball. The British Tamil Sports Council (BTSC), whose chairman presented winners with their prizes at the day’s end, is another.

Many of the teams competing trace their heritage, reflected in their names, to various locations in the Tamil homeland.

The festival was not held in 2009 and 2010, as the global Tamil community coped with the devastating consequences of Sri Lanka’s genocidal onslaught in the final months of the war. This year’s event was held two weeks after the May 18th memorial to the 40,000 victims of that period.

Spectators came to cheer on their favourite teams competing at the Richard Evans memorial playing fields in Roehampton Vale.

The day kicked off with football teams battling it out on thirteen pitches for the champion’s cup in each of several age ranges. Four allocated to ‘Adults’, two each to ‘Under 14’s’ and ‘Under12’s’ and one each to ‘Over 40’s’, ‘Under 16’s’ and ‘Under 19’s.’

Advanced the stakes for future tournaments, BTSL announced that the winner for three consecutive years in the open division would be eligible to win the ‘Challenge Cup’. The teams have begun to train vigorously to battle for the football trophy in 2013.

A newly inaugurated volleyball competition, generated much excitement amongst players and supporters. ‘Young Rise’, a team from Lewisham, won the 5-a-side tournament, whilst ‘Veman Beenad’won the 4-a-side one.

A fun competition for members of the public, organised into teams representing various homeland locations, such as Valvattithurai and Myliddi, was the tug-of-war.

Children amongst the spectators participated in friendly rivalries, such as an egg and spoon race, running and skipping contests.

In keeping with tradition at Diaspora festivals, various stalls did brisk business selling Tamil food, including the ubiquitous mutton rolls, ‘kothu roti’ and ‘kool’, a spicy seafood soup.

Also in custom, a raffle was held (with a bike as first prize). ILC, a Diaspora radio station, ran commentary through the day from a base on the site.

The day concluded with the winning teams being presented with medals by Loga Pradapan, the General Secretary of British Tamil Sports Council (BTSC)

Upcoming in mid July will be BTSC’s 3rd Annual Tamil Athletics Event, for which heats will take place in June, in all four branches of London, and Diaspora centers outside of London, such as Coventry.

These are the football results:

Age Champions Runners up Score
Under 10’s Union Valvai Blues 2-1
Under 12’s KITC B Union 2-0
Under 14’s UKTSU Union 2-0
Under 16’s UKTSU MTSSC 5-1
Under 19’s Suban Valvai Blues 4-1
Over 40’s Sunrise Norway 1-0
Open (mixed age) Myliddi Kannaki Kingston 2-1 (on penalties)