Ceylon Sports Club



The Ceylon Sports Club at 101 Balestier Road was established in 1928.1 It was reconstituted from the Lanka Union, which was founded by a group of Ceylonese students in 1920. The club’s main aim was to unite Ceylonese in Singapore and promote sports among them. Cricket was particularly popular while other sports such as hockey, tennis and soccer were also promoted. The club has produced many outstanding sports teams since the 1920s, and several well-known cricket and hockey players in Malaya and Singapore had played with the club.3 Although the clubhouse was destroyed during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45), it was rebuilt after the war. Over the years, several renovations were carried out to the clubhouse, and new services introduced by the club to reach out to more members.4

Background
Ceylonese migration to Singapore
The first group of Ceylonese arrived in Singapore, Penang and Malacca after the Straits Settlements became a crown colony in 1867.5 While Singapore’s rapidly expanding economy had attracted a growing number of immigrants in the 19th century, the Ceylonese migrated to Malaya, including Singapore, in larger numbers only towards the end of the 19th century.6


In 1931, the number of Ceylonese in Singapore totalled 1,645. This is one of the earliest statistics available on the Ceylonese population in Singapore as earlier census reports did not differentiate between Ceylonese and Indians.7

Formation of Lanka Union
The Lanka Union was founded in 1920 by a group of students from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) who were studying at the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore. These students felt that there was a need for a united Ceylonese body for the promotion of sports, in particular cricket and soccer.8 From the start, the club was open to all Ceylonese, including Burghers, Sinhalese, Tamils, Moors and others.9


The Lanka Union had no official premises and held their sporting events on the Padang until 1922, when it leased a piece of land at Balestier Plain. Members erected a small shed which served as a clubhouse. The club’s main sports were cricket and soccer as many Ceylonese had a penchant for these two sports.10

Establishment of Ceylon Sports Club
After several years, the members decided to dissolve the Lanka Union and reconstitute it into the Ceylon Sports Club. On 1 June 1928, the Ceylon Sports Club was registered with 500 members.11


Post-war developments
During the Japanese Occupation, Balestier Plain was used as a vehicle dump and became a “huge mass of twisted metal and wreckage”. After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, the military cleared the dump but it was left to the club to re-level and re-turf the club premises.12


The Ceylonese community pooled their resources and launched an ambitious fundraising campaign to rebuild the clubhouse.13 More than $48,000 was raised by the end of September 1951. On 13 October the following month, the foundation stone for a new clubhouse was laid by then first prime minister of Ceylon, D. S. Senanayake.14 The club’s new permanent premises were officially opened on 13 April 1954 by then British Commissioner Malcolm MacDonald.15 Until then, a single-storey wooden structure had served as a temporary clubhouse.16

Later developments
In recent years, the Ceylon Sports Club has been playing an active role in promoting sports among the younger generation. Some of its initiatives included mentor programmes and free coaching clinics to schools, particularly in cricket and hockey, where coaching and the use of club facilities were provided for students. The club also introduced ladies’ cricket to get more families and women involved in sports and not just as spectators.17


As an inclusive club, it has many members who are not of Ceylonese descent. These members joined the club because of their passion for sports as well as to participate in the social and family activities organised by the club.18



Author

Jeanne Louise Conceicao



References
1.
Ceylon Sports Club. (2016). [Homepage]. Retrieved 2017, May 5 from Ceylon Sports Club website: cscsingapore.org.sg
2.
Ceylon Sports Club to mark 70th anniversary. (1998. September 18). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3.
Ministry of Information, Communications and The Arts. (2001, December 31). Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of State for Education and Trade & Industry, at the Ceylon Sports Club New Year’s Eve celebrations on Monday, 31 December 2001, 8.15 pm, at 101 Balestier Road. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
4. Ceylon Sports Club to mark 70th anniversary. (1998. September 18). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5.
Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Author, p. 240. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS]); Raja Singam, S. D. (1968). A hundred years of Ceylonese in Malaysia and Singapore (1867–1967). Petaling Jaya: Raja Singam, p. 29. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 RAJ)
6.
Turnbull, C. M. (1989). A history of Singapore, 1819–1975. Kuala Lumpur; New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 110–111. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
7.
Raja Singam, S. D. (1968). A hundred years of Ceylonese in Malaysia and Singapore (1867–1967). Petaling Jaya: Raja Singam, p. 147. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 RAJ)
8.
Ceylon Sports Club to mark 70th anniversary. (1998. September 18). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 89. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
9.
Ministry of Information, Communications and The Arts. (2001, December 31). Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of State for Education and Trade & Industry, at the Ceylon Sports Club New Year’s Eve celebrations on Monday, 31 December 2001, 8.15 pm, at 101 Balestier Road. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
10. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 89. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
11.
Ceylon Sports Club to mark 70th anniversary. (1998. September 18). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12.
I.A. clubhouse to be ready by March. (1949, July 27). The Singapore Free Press, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13.
Ceylon Sports Club to mark 70th anniversary. (1998. September 18). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14.
Senanayake lays foundation stone of sports club. (1951, October 14). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15.
Page 10 Advertisements Column 5: Ceylon Sports Club. (1954, April 8). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16.
Ceylon Sports Club to mark 70th anniversary. (1998. September 18). The Straits Times, p. 55. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17.
Ministry of Information, Communications and The Arts. (2001, December 31). Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of State for Education and Trade & Industry, at the Ceylon Sports Club New Year’s Eve celebrations on Monday, 31 December 2001, 8.15 pm, at 101 Balestier Road. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
18. Ministry of Information, Communications and The Arts. (2001, December 31). Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of State for Education and Trade & Industry, at the Ceylon Sports Club New Year’s Eve celebrations on Monday, 31 December 2001, 8.15 pm, at 101 Balestier Road. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Sports and games
Ceylon Sports Club (Singapore)
Athletic clubs--Singapore
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Public Buildings
Sports, recreation and travel>>Sports
Public buildings
Recreation>>Sports
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings