Down the memory lane….

By Ruvini Ekanayake

On 22nd of March 2010, when I first stepped into JKH as an intern I never imagined of having a long yet exciting and enjoyable journey with JKH. Just after few months of joining, I heard about the JKH Intercompany Badminton tournament in the month of June. Having played badminton representing both schools I attended (Musaeaus College & Visakha Vidayalaya) in all island and junior national tournaments, and at Inter University and Inter club level I was the happiest to hear the news. However, my happiness didn’t last long as I got to know that I’m not eligible to play in the tournament as I was an Intern.

Having joined the company as a full-time employee, in October I got to know about an upcoming mercantile badminton tournament. I got in touch with Rashika, who was the badminton coordinator of JKH at the time and ensured that I’m eligible to play this time. I finally got the opportunity to represent JKH in my 1st mercantile tournament and that was the 27th Mercantile Team Badminton Championship where I was placed third in my division and JKH became the overall 1st runner up losing the championship just by 1 point.

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John Keells Group became overall 1st runner up at the 27th Mercantile Team Badminton Championships in 2010

Tournament was held for 8 days where over 10 teams represented JKH and that was my first experience to interact with employees from across John Keells group. Rashika ensured all newcomers behave with true sportsmanship thereby keeping the JKH name high in the mercantile arena. We were like one big family cheering, supporting and encouraging each other during matches. I felt a real togetherness and belongingness towards the team and JKH. From that point onwards I was part of the JKH badminton family. We shared fond memories and the friendships we made last to this day despite some people having moved on to new adventures on continents far away. To name a few (Rashika- USA, Nirosha- Kuwait, Lankamali- Sydney, Australia and Vishadini- Brisbane, Australia.). Technically I had friends in almost every sector because of badminton and those friendships helped me during my day to day work activities in various ways.

Upon Rashika’s departure in September 2011, Shalini took over the badminton coordinator position. I worked closely with her in coordinating all badminton related matters with Ruchira- Group HR as I was based in head office. Further, we jointly organized the JKH Intercompany badminton tournament in 2012 and I got the first feel of managing a team and organizing a tournament.

After Shalini left the group, I became the badminton coordinator in June 2012 along with Kumar De Silva (ex JMSL). That’s the same year I moved to JMSL from Centre functions and I was the coordinator of badminton along with my work place boss and represented badminton in JKG’s monthly sports committee meetings. However, the very next year I moved to property and that happened through Chandani- (a badminton player) due to a friendship I made because I played badminton.

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Executive Committee of John Keells Group Sports Club 2012/13

As the badminton coordinator I had to manage around 45-50 employees across all sectors covering clerical level to AVP and above level employees. As I see it sports are one of the key activities where all employees get together and blend with each other irrespective of their status within the organization. There were instances that non executives used to give advices on how to tackle the game to an AVP. That was the true team spirit and everyone supported to the success of the team.

Playing badminton was my passion since I was a kid and so far I have represented JKH in Badminton for six and a half years. Out of the many tournaments I have played, 28th MBA Badminton Championships 2011 tops the list as the most memorable tournament. I managed to win the Women’s Open Singles title and Mixed Doubles partnering Ranga Niroshana, a former colleague from CHML, whereas became the 1st runner up in the Women’s Doubles event with Vishadini Fernando a former colleague from Cinnamon Grand. I nearly missed the Triple Crown by losing the Women’s Doubles final. However; it remained the greatest feat a JKH employee has achieved in the above events of the tournament, till early 2017. Following this win I was selected for a tour to Malaysia organized by Mercantile Badminton Association where I went on to captain the Women’s team.

John Keells Group badminton players

Badminton not only gave me the opportunity to get along with players at JKH, but also to interact with other mercantile sector players and even to be a part of Mercantile Badminton Association. I served as the Honorary Secretary in the Mercantile Badminton Association in 2015 and as the Assistant Secretary in year 2014 and 2016. This gave me the opportunity to be a part of badminton administration and to work with the most respectable set of people in the mercantile arena. The knowledge and exposure I gained through organizing tournaments and various other activities is unmatchable. More than anything the friendships eased most of my office work.

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Mercantile Badminton Association tour to Malaysia 2012

My long (not so long) badminton journey, (yet not finished) has given me the chance to be a player, coordinator, and MBA committee member. Badminton as a game has taught me to be humble in both a win and in a loss. Further, the way we adjust the game depending on the opponent gave an important life lesson on how to tackle different situations in real life. “No panicking” “Stay calm, analyze opponents’ weak areas and take one point at a time”. Even though Badminton seems like an easy sport, it takes real commitment, dedication, discipline and character to excel. On average, a 2 set badminton match lasts for around 30minutes and player need to be focused and should have mental stability and physical stamina till the game finishes. How you balance the game till the end through different shot selections and placements is similar to how you manage everyday jobs in the work place. Finally, yet most importantly listening and learning to respect other’s views when you’re a part of a team and ensuring continuous team spirit is an utmost crucial lesson. I can undoubtedly say that badminton has positively impacted my life and in each every stage in my career.

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John Keells Group became overall 2nd runner up at the 31st Mercantile Team Badminton Championships in 2014

“Win without boasting and lose without any excuses”