The first international T20 cricket tournament kicked off on October 10, 2008 at the Maple Leaf Grounds in Toronto under the sponsorship of the Dubai-based Al Barakah Group, a leading real estate company with projects worth AED 10 billion in the UAE.
The four-day four-nation tournament – Al Barakha Cup – is being organized by Sports International Marketing (SIM), a Pakistan-based sports event management company with worldwide operations in association with the Dubai-based Media Agency Middle East (MAME). Al Barakha Cup will be sponsored by the realty form for five years.
Commenting on its sponsorship of the match, Mr. Imran Khan, CEO, Al Barakha Group said: “We believe that the cricket tournament offers us a unique opportunity to highlight the spirit of Dubai in promoting sports across the world. Being a Dubai-based company, we consider it as great value-add to our endeavor in foraying into the North American market, particularly Canada.”
He said cricket is almost a religion in South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India but the game has always had a lower profile in a sports-conscious country like Canada, whose national team is largely made up of expatriates from cricket-playing countries. “In this context our sponsorship presents us an opportunity to be part of the efforts to spread the appeal of cricket in countries like Canada where the sports has started enjoying appeal,” Mr. Khan added.
Cricket in Canada received a boost after the 2003 World Cup, when Canadian John Davison clubbed half a dozen sixes against the West Indies in the fastest recorded century in the history of the tournament. Today, it is one of the fastest growing sports in the country.
Elaborating on the details of the ICC approved match, Mr. Bipin Pathak, CEO of MAME, said: “We are delighted that our partnership is taking the spirit of cricket to Canada where the appeal for the sport is gaining ground. We are confident that the tournament – the first T20 tournament in Canada as well as internationally, would catch the imagination and interest of youngsters.”
He said MAME comes from a distinguished track record of associating with various cricketing events. Part of Percept Limited, one of the leading entertainment, media and communications conglomerate from India, the agency offers business consultancy to satellite channels, both free-to-air and DTH platforms, and publications. Its 360° solutions cover product introduction, packaging, distribution and content syndication as well as the creative and media planning aspects.
The four-nation ‘limited overs’ tournament gets off the ground with Sri Lanka facing Zimbabwe on October 10 2008. Other teams on the match will be Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Canada.
According to SIM Chairman Mr. Numan Nabi Ahmed, the Canadian T20 tournament has already received the stamp of approval from the ICC and is likely to feature on the annual international cricketing calendar.
“We are happy that we are contributing to building the future of cricket in North America, which has one of the biggest expatriate populations from South Asia in the world. Although Canada is not a Test-playing nation it has been participating in ‘limited overs’ cricket and first class games against non-Test playing nations, including the World Cup, ICC International Cup and Americas Cup. Our initiative to take cricket back to the Americas has received tremendous response from all quarters. The Pakistan Cricket Board has extended full support and the other Boards have also been extremely cooperative, readily agreeing to send their teams for the tournament.”
SIM is the first private sector company from Pakistan – and the fourth in the world – to organize international cricketing events. Backed by The Brand Partnership, one of Pakistan’s largest communications groups, the company has opened the doors of international cricket in North America. It motivates and encourages the large population of cricket lovers in the region with its slogan: ‘Cricket has found a new home – North America’.
The company has also entered into a strategic partnership with Media Agency Middle East (MAME), the single window media and media-business consultancy provider, to promote and popularize cricket in Canada.
Percept has also been involved with Indian and international cricket for over 20 years and was an integral part of the team behind the first international cricket tournament, the ‘Sahara Cup’ cricket series, organized in Canada in 1997- 98.