Sikka Team: A Show on Sports and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka Wins National Award

by Sankini De Silva and Natalie Rowthorn

on October 20, 2017

It began as a show about a Sri Lankan cricket team, united by the passion for the sport, divided by the trauma of past conflict. It soon transformed into a nation-wide media phenomenon promoting interethnic reconciliation.

Sikka Team, a groundbreaking drama series produced by our local team in Sri Lanka, has won a Special Jury Award at the annual Sumathi Awards Ceremony this September. The prestigious yearly award recognizes the greatest technical and artistic achievements in the Sri Lankan television industry.

Using cricket as a metaphor to address deeply-rooted conflict, Sikka Team follows the stories of players who must gradually learn to work as a team to overcome their differences and win the competition.

Director Pradeep Dharmadasa at the Awards Ceremony.

The story begins with a group of security guards who form a cricket team, hoping to win a tournament with a prize of one million rupees. The group is led by Suresh, the show’s protagonist; he is initially thought to be Sinhalese by others, but his actual ethnic identity is later revealed to be different. His talented son, Jonty, is selected to play in the National Cricket Pool. Jonty is in love with Shana, a Muslim girl and daughter of the team’s coach. The young lovers regularly encounter difficulties because of their diverging ethnic backgrounds.

The plot addresses many of the challenges faced by Sri Lankans, including the clashes of perceptions and identities, generational and gender gaps, and the ongoing process of reconciliation after the war. These dynamics gradually build tension between the characters, and each character’s individual journey sheds new light on the complexity and beauty of Sri Lanka’s multicultural society.

In addition to receiving the prestigious Sumathi Award, Sikka Team was also recognized at the SIGNIS Cinema and Tele Awards Ceremony, held in October. Shalini Tharaka received a special award for her portrayal of Shana, and Malcolm Machado was nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of Suresh. Director Pradeep Dharmadasa also won an Award for his masterful direction of the screenplay.

The show’s actors and director won multiple awards this fall.

Both awards highlight the show’s contribution to shifting public perceptions around contemporary social issues in Sri Lanka. With a weekly audience of 1 million viewers, Sikka Team has deeply impacted the public’s attitudes toward the country’s post-war reconciliation process.

Sikka Team was a unique production that I had the fortune of being a part of. This honor is bestowed on everyone that was behind Sikka Team. Being awarded a special jury award goes to show that Sikka Team has been recognized for its efforts to promote reconciliation and ethnic harmony in our community. There is a shortage of such bold and creative efforts in the media industry today and Sikka Team was a refreshing change,” said Director Pradeep Dharmadasa.

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Sankini De Silva is a Communications Coordinator at Search for Common Ground – Sri Lanka, based in Colombo.

Natalie Rowthorn is a New Media Intern at Search for Common Ground, based in Washington, D.C.