Muscat: Oman Cricket has always set itself ambitious goals and has been working hard to promote the game of cricket in the Sultanate. Although the task has proven to be a difficult one, many of the national cricket board's goals have been realised.
Going green was one such goal that came to fruition, thanks to support from all quarters, especially from like-minded corporates.
"Oman Cricket has benefited from self-funding and national recognition has prompted support from the Ministry of Sports Affairs, as well as from the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and International Cricket Council (ICC)," said OC board member Pankaj Khimji in an address to the media at the Mumtaz Mahal, yesterday.
"Having a green ground was our first goal, and we achieved it, but now, we have found that we still fall short of the requirements of the ACC and the ICC," stated Pankaj.
"They have raised the bar, and now, we need to have one more green ground, a sports academy, and certain other facilities on the ground. That is another big task, and to become an associate member, we must comply with this too," he added.
"It is a tough task, and that's why we decided to seek the services of NPA Events, who with their expertise, are planning to boost the marketing strategies of Oman Cricket," said Pankaj.
In all, Oman Cricket now has two cricket grounds (one of which is green), which were provided by the Ministry of Sports Affairs, and the Muscat Municipality has provided space where Oman Cricket has developed four grounds. These facilities have all been established in Al Amerat, which has boosted participation during the domestic season.
Oman Cricket represents a record number of 72 teams, including seven all-Omani teams. The association also has broad representation in domestic tournaments.
More than 1,400 registered players, which includes 165 nationals, will play this season. In addition, a school-level tournament will be held, with 10 teams playing in the Under-16 category and seven teams playing in the Under-19 category. An inter-school girls' Under-19 tournament is also on the cards. Cricket tournaments will be held in Sohar and Salalah as well.
Pankaj remarked, "We are proud that the participation record is high, but the fees collected are not enough, even for just maintaining the existing facilities. With more to be achieved, the expenses are much higher, and we need cricket-loving corporations to lend a great deal of support to the development of the game.
"Now that Oman Cricket has officially appointed NPA Events as its marketing consultant and has authorised them to promote, coordinate, and execute advertising displays on the ground, such as at the entrance, on the scoreboard, on sightscreens, in pavilions, in changing rooms, and at water tanks, for the entire season from September to May each year, we hope to raise funds to the tune of OMR200,000 to OMR250,000," confirmed Pankaj.
He also pointed out that to send a national team to an international game, Oman Cricket needed to bear expenses of OMR30,000, despite receiving funds from the ACC and ICC.
Ashok Suvarna, executive director of NPA Events, said, "There is also the possibility of placing branded boards along the boundary line and displaying portable branded flags too."
Ashok observed, "Since the game of cricket attracts hordes of expatriates and Omani nationals alike, Al Amerat grounds will soon be a bustling venue for leisure and sports enthusiasts.
"This presents the opportunity for great brands to gain visibility in front of a large audience, which could comprise existing or prospective customers. The best locations at the grounds, where brands will be visible to the players, audience, and bystanders alike, have been identified. This will create a total brand recall for products or services in association with the game of cricket.
"As part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives, companies and business houses can contribute towards the development of the game of cricket in Oman through sponsorships. The younger generation in Oman is taking a keen interest in the game, and this attitude is reflected in their level of participation and their commitment towards the game."
Ashok Suvarna also called for support from corporate houses since they can help the game of cricket in Oman to make rapid strides.
Oman Cricket Chairman Kanak Khimji and Ashok Suvarna later put ink to paper to launch their official partnership for the challenging task ahead. Also present were Oman Cricket Vice-Chairman Qais Khalid Qais Al Said; General Secretary Madhu Jesrani; Treasurer Kiran Asher; Board members Vaikunth, Syed Anwar, and Dad Mohammed Al Balushi; and national coach Duleep Mendis.