2020 Mar 12
In Sri Lanka, the month of March can only mean one thing: Big Match season is upon us! It doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl, an avid cricket fan or someone who has no idea how the game is played, one thing is for sure: you will be dragged into it. From seeing the school cycle parades on the road, to hearing the papare bands in the background and if you’re still in school, excitedly waiting for the boys to jump in or cutting school and jumping into girls schools, all whilst trying to avoid the principal and police. However if you’re a first time goer of the big match, it can be daunting as it is a fairly big social event so here’s what to expect!
Like any match there will be papare bands stationed everywhere along with DJ music. While it certainly adds to the party atmosphere, it can be a bit monotonous towards the end of the day. There is also general background crowd noise so if you aren’t used to loud noise or don’t like it, be prepared.
Yes although big matches are school events, one must remember that past old boys of all ages attend (rumour has it that boys have a harder time letting go of their school days than girls). Let’s face it, alcohol provides better dance moves and overall better atmosphere. So even if you can’t or don’t drink, don’t fret because you can still enjoy the big match.
3. Dress code
Keep it casual and keep it comfortable, because you will probably be doing a lot of cheering, walking in between tents and running onto the field so there is no need to waste a perfectly good outfit. A t-shirt (maybe in the school’s colours?) and a comfortable pair of jeans are the most common.
4. Love for the school > everything else
No matter what school it is, the spirit is strong! From flags so massive that they span the extent of the ground to hats, souvenirs, wrist bands etc. Make sure you get yourself a souvenir or an accessory and if you are supporting a school, feel free to dress up in those respective colours. Also expect a lot of side commentary (and swearing) from old die hard uncles in their 80’s to ambitious teenagers who are all convinced that they or their grandparents could’ve played better, no matter the circumstances.
5. Beat the heat
Especially with the current heat wave it’s going to be extra hot. So make sure you stay hydrated, take your hats, sunglasses, sunblock and be prepared to sweat. Girls (and boys who have long hair) make sure you take a few hair bands and clips because that will make all the difference. That being said sometimes the match has been a wash out in the past so prepare to get drenched too. (Yes it’s contradictory advice but that’s just how unpredictable our weather can be)
6. It can get rowdy
Every year there are fights that break out between rival schools. Although it’s always over minor things, it can escalate quite fast especially when they are intoxicated. So if faced with confrontation, best is to walk away. Also if you are a girl, be vigilant that harassment can still take place. However there are policemen all around so make sure to ask for help in case this happens. This is not to deter you from going to the match, rather to prepare you for the worst case scenario.
7. You probably won’t even see the match
This might come as a surprise if you’re a first time attendee, but nobody really pays continuous attention to the poor boys playing in the sun, sans the occasional important wicket falling or scoring of a six. With so much going on off the field, it’s a guarantee that neither will you! Hope you have an eventful March!