The one-day sports event called SmartCup, held at Insportz, Al Quoz in Dubai, had the primary objective of bringing together white and blue-collared employees into one team nurturing a harmonious sporting spirit.
Cricket is a passion for many expats living in the UAE, more so for the blue collar workers who play ‘street’ cricket every Friday with unwavering enthusiasm. Harnessing the energy and excitement associated with the game, NGO SmartLife organised a one-day tournament that saw 18 teams – 80 corporate employees and a little over 100 blue collared employees – come together to support and play cricket for a cause.
The one-day sports event called SmartCup, held at Insportz, Al Quoz in Dubai, had the primary objective of bringing together white and blue-collared employees into one team nurturing a harmonious sporting spirit. The proceeds from the event will support Project Sapna from SmartLife that offers educational scholarships to the children of blue-collar workers in Dubai.
Participant Kadiresan Ramesh Kumar, a printing operator, said: “I have been playing cricket from childhood, but never did I think that one day I will be playing as part of a competitive team, amid a cheering crowd. The whole day was one of joy, a memory that I will take back with me, for it was wholesome – the game, the winning, the trophy, accolades from my company, the pat on the back from my colleagues. SmartCup has made me walk tall today and improved my self-esteem.’
Manjula Ramakrishnan, the spokesperson of SmartLife, said: “The mandatory requirement for each team was having a mix of blue and white collar players. Through a healthy game of cricket the ice was broken and the colour of their collar faded into the background.”
Also, for the first time, SmartCup had an all ladies team, with the blue and white collar ladies showing they are no less on the field. “The emotional hugs between them at the end of the game made it clear that winning or losing was not at all paramount. It was the friendship that mattered and the feeling of heightened self-esteem that they too were contributing for a noble cause through their game and SmartCup,” Ramakrishnan said.
The SmartCup is also supported by the Indian Consulate Dubai as part of the [email protected] project, celebrating 70 years of Indian Independence.
Blue collars are no lesser players
The SmartCup tournament was taken to a brand new level this time, with G-Force Cricket Academy coming forth to select seven best blue-collar players and offering them a free cricketing scholarship for seven weeks in their premises. This is professional coaching, which would hone their skills further and take them to the next level of cricketing proficiency.
The winning team was awarded a cash prize of Dh7,500, while the first and second runners-up got Dh4,500 and Dh3,000 respectively.
Besides the best batsmen, the best player of the tournament, there was a unique category titled ‘Played for the Cause’ that was given to a team that played the game not with the aim of winning or losing, but as a ‘gentleman’s game’. They were rewarded for being courteous on-field and off-field even with other competing teams, respecting umpire’s decisions, body language and overall demeanour on field befitting a good sportsman.