Revving up for Unimoni Asia Cup
The cricket scene in the UAE is ready for a spectacular month as fans get set to cheer their favourite international teams.
While close on the heels of this electrifying sports event, we talk to the A-team at the helm to tell us what to expect at this prestigious cricket tournament
"We are extremely delighted and proud to host the Asia Cup in the UAE," says Salman Hanif, Senior Manager, Events and Venues at Dubai Sports City. "This has come at a very right time for us because this year we are celebrating our tenth cricket season at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, where we will hold around 30 matches featuring international players," he conveyed.
Commenting on the crackling energy of certain highly popular matches, Hanif added, "The highlight of this event is undoubtedly that India and Pakistan will be playing here. It is the biggest rivalry in the game and over a billion fans across the world follow this."
Undoubtedly, the 14th edition of the Asia Cup has made giant waves among the multinational cricket community all through the summer, with friends and family members sourcing tickets to attend the tournament.
In response to the buzz and anticipated turnout, Dubai Sports City has made some major investments into upgrading the stadium. "The fans can expect a much better experience this year as we have installed new replay screens and the new digital scoreboard to align the stadium with modern day cricket requirements," shared Hanif.
According to Hanif, Dubai Sports City will be hosting around 30 matches this season and to manage the volume of cricket, two new cricket pitches have been added. In addition to upgrading the player facilities, two new video screens and digital scoreboards have been installed, while the parking facilities have been improved for smooth access to the stadium.
"For public convenience, we will be arranging free shuttle services to Dubai Sports City in cooperation and partnership support with Roads Transport Authority, the details of which will be available for the public very soon," stated Hanif.
Sharing his upbeat views on the importance of this tournament in particular, Hanif expressed, "We have hosted almost all cricket teams here, over 60 teams from around the world, but this [Asia Cup] was one contest that was missing here. This time we were so keen to host this particular match-up," he beamed, "and now we are looking forward to hosting this match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. We look forward to hosting the six participating teams and the fans to make this the biggest and most memorable Asia Cup," informed Hanif.
Equally confident in managing this large-scale tournament on reasonably short notice, Will Kitchen, General Manager, ICC Academy, advised, "We are pretty familiar with hosting large events here. We have hosted a number of big franchise tournaments in the past, which include a lot of bilateral international cricket, but hosting these six teams at this time of the year is a real thrill for us."
The buzz of the forthcoming matches and the unrivalled joy of seeing one's cricket teams and favourite players descend in the UAE within a few days to make cricket history here calls for a venue that is revved up for all the action. Kitchen confirmed, "It is very exciting for us to host the Asia Cup here at Dubai Sports City and the ICC Academy by welcoming six teams to the venue at this time of the year. It is a real thrill for us as the venue has just finished its renovation period and we have just relayed our outfield, our wickets are almost unused, so the guys are going to be accessing the venue at its absolute peak."
Although planning has been in place since early June, preparations for the Asia Cup commenced three weeks ago for Toby Lumsden, Head Curator at Dubai International Stadium. He explained that the real preparation involves rolling, and some light top dressing to get them in good condition.
"The next couple of weeks will be intense with lots of rolling, watering, making sure the pitches are nice and flat with enough grass to hold them together in the heat. We need at least three pitches to cover eight games, and hence we have been selecting the pitches and rotations that will be to be used accordingly," shared Lumsden.
Food and Beverage
When we anchored on the food and beverage aspect, John Gunn, General Manager, Food and Beverage at Dubai Sports City, declared that preparations for the big tournament have been underway for about two months as it's a mighty task which requires round the clock action.
"Once the players arrive and the doors open for the event, all the work must be done by then. We start everything about six weeks to eight weeks beforehand by essentially sourcing who our partners are going to be from the food and beverage perspective," stated Gunn. "We go off-site and speak with international hotels for the corporate boxes and the players and so forth, and we negotiate with those five-star hotels to find out if they are actually up to the task of catering to the types of numbers that we are expecting," he outlined. Upon achieving this step, the crucial next step is to speak to selected catering about their authenticity with regard to providing menus for the players.
When it comes to focusing on high standards of visitor satisfaction, the food and beverage section is leaving no stone unturned. "Obviously, if we are hosting six international teams here for Asia Cup, we need to get everything right for each of those teams and the spectators alike," assured Gunn.
"Something that is very interesting is that some of the hotels will fly in chefs from abroad. So we bring in chefs from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, to make sure we have the authenticity right. So whilst the players are here, they are very comfortable and the cuisine they are used to allows them to perform at their absolute best," he continued.
As far as catering for the public is concerned, Gunn acknowledged that it would highly likely be leased out to an external provider, as they are dealing with crowds of about 25,000 spectators in the stadium for any given match.
Strategic measures are also in place to handle the broad range of spectators.
The 14th edition of the Asia Cup has made giant waves among the multinational cricket community all through the summer, with friends and family members sourcing tickets to attend the tournament.
The buzz of the forthcoming matches and the unrivalled joy of seeing one’s cricket teams and favourite players descend in the UAE within a few days to make cricket history here calls for a venue that is revved up for all the action.
Toby Lumsden, Head Curator, Dubai International Stadium
14th edition of the Asia Cup has made giant waves among the multinational cricket community all through the summer, with friends and family members sourcing tickets to attend the tournament.