Hong Kong cricket aims to broaden its horizons
Hong Kong's own version of the IPL, the Sarjan Hong Kong Premier League, has helped raise the profile of the game among the Indian corporate community to such an extent that it even helped national player Munir Dar land a job.
Encouraged by this, Ravi Nagdev, one of the men behind the organisation of the event this weekend and a member of the Hong Kong Cricket Association executive council, is hoping to spread the message among other communities as cricket bids to broaden its base.
"Munir Dar was a player for a team last year, and now through getting to know the community [most corporates are from the diamond industry], he has ended up getting a job," Nagdev said.
All-rounder Dar, who has represented Hong Kong internationally as well as at the Hong Kong Sixes, previously worked as a coach and played cricket for Little Sai Wan. He now has a full-time job with Diasqua, which also supports his commitments to the national team.
"The Indian community through their business commitments are supporting Hong Kong cricket and the national players. If more communities in Hong Kong get involved, especially those from the sub-continent like Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and feel connected this can only help the game in terms of a greater fan base," Nagdev said.
"If there is more involvement from the corporate community, it will translate into support and an avenue of opportunities for our cricketers, who might be able to get a job and work for a company which will also encourage them to play, as in the case of Munir."
The two-day tournament, backed by Unirich Jewellery, gets underway on Sunday at Po Kwong Village Road sports ground and will feature nine teams each owned by an Indian company involved in the diamond industry with players drawn from staff and family.
Each team will have a mentor - a leading cricketer - picked from a draw. The format is called Dus10 (10 overs per innings), and for the first time will also be played under lights.
Sohan Goenka, president of Unirich Jewellery, said: "The introduction of team mentors gives our players a chance to share experiences with those who have played at the highest level. Our aim is that one day this event will become an international corporate tournament."
To spice up the event, nominal prize money has also been included.