Mr Arunachalam Thiruketheeswaran (Thiru) won the Local Community Hero Award at the 2017 BRISLA Awards ceremony held at Lord’s on the 14th of October. He was the former President of both the Tamil Schools Sports Association and Jaffna Hindu College’s OBA UK, and is now the current President of the Surbiton Sports Club.
A strong academic, Thiru excelled at Jaffna Hindu College where he was a student from 1967 – 1975. His natural skills as a leader, consisting of reliability and self-discipline, meant that he was appointed as a prefect in Jaffna Hindu College. It is perhaps here that Thiru began to nurture the qualities that would see him go on to hold several important positions of responsibility many years later. He eventually became the President of Jaffna Hindu College’s OBA (UK) in the years 2007 and 2008.
During his time at the college, Thiru was an accomplished sportsman and represented his college for Athletics, Cricket and Hockey. He remained involved in sporting activities in the UK, which fuelled his desire to become more involved in organisations that focussed on bringing together sports clubs in the UK.
Since 2012 he has been the joint Chairman of English Tamil League (ETCL), a treasurer of Surbiton Sports Club (SSC) from 1999 – 2013 and is currently the Chairman of SSC. Thiru has also held the position of Director of Institute of Tamil Culture (ITC) – Tamil Centre (UK) since 2014. The ITC provides lessons in Tamil, Baratha Natyam, vocals and a number of traditional South Indian and Sri Lankan musical instruments. Thiru has always been keen to encourage youngsters to connect with their cultural roots.
Most notably, he was a founder member of the Tamil schools sports association (TSSA UK) and was appointed its first treasurer in 1992. His orderly and methodical ways of thinking were accompanied by an incredible eye for detail. This, coupled together with his financial qualifications enabled him to excel as treasurer. His successes in this responsibility allowed him to go on to serve as TSSA’s (UK) treasurer for five years over three different periods.
Tamil Schools Sports Association (TSSA UK) organises two sporting events every year. A football tournament is held annually on the May bank holiday. Over a thousand sportsmen of all ages take part each year. The other event is the summer Sports Festival held on August’s bank holiday, which feature tournaments in cricket, netball, volleyball and children’s athletics. This festival has equally high yield of players and participants; more than a thousand sportsmen and women take part each year. Thiru has shown that his leadership and administration have been invaluable in hosting these events from the very beginning. To be able to organise such extensive events year in year out, he showed enthusiasm and passion in ensuring that each event was successfully executed.
Thiru’s commitment and dedication to the TSSA (UK) organisation entailed that he was an obvious candidate for presidency and went on to successfully serve as President for three years from 2010 – 2012. His leadership was second to none and one in which he ensured that those around him were appreciated and respected. He was an admired leader who was keen to make a real difference – always striving to achieve the very best for the organisation.
His sporting acumen has certainly been passed on to his children as both girls have participated in netball tournaments- representing the Kingston Institute of Tamil Culture (KITC). Thiru served as a Chairman and treasurer for the KITC youth club and ITC Tamil Centre respectively.
He mentioned in a speech on his 60th birthday, that he values his wife Malathy and daughters Mathu and Nirthana who have given him immense support and encouragement throughout the years to carry out his commitments, a noteworthy point to be considered.
In this fast moving materialistic world, not many people are volunteering their time to help improve our community. Family and financial circumstances may perhaps limit even those who try to be of aid for others. Despite those struggles, it is remarkable to note that Thiru has been contributing to our community for over 30 years and is continuing to do so. He has displayed a strong mentality and a generous self-giving spirit that has enabled him to continue providing for the community for all these years.
We as a community and organisations together (Tamil Schools Sports Association, Surbiton Sports Club, Institute of Tamil Culture, Jaffna Hindu College OBA UK) feel privileged to be a part of his on-going journey and wish him well for the future. We deeply appreciate that BRISLA recognized such a fine asset within our community and we would like to praise and support both Thiru and BRISLA to carry on with their vital contributions in our society.
*S. Joypooranachandren, Surbiton Sports Club andTamil Schools Sports Association