When I first heard about the possibility of a cricket franchise league in Bahrain I was initially very sceptical. Would the right sort of people be interested in supporting such a new and different venture for Bahrain and was there the desire and innovation to make such a competition work? Having worked in education and sports management throughout my career it has always struck me that go-getters and innovators are always needed to get these sorts of projects off the ground initially. When I received my initial invite to a planning meeting, I went along to listen and, if asked give my ideas. As always the plans were great and at times complicated but the right things were being said in essence and the strong personalities began to come through. I was quickly approached to support and lead a team and was impressed by the vision shown by the Wafi franchise. Jacob Thomas, as its driving force, matched my ambitions and aspirations and we immediately devised a shared vision for what the sporting arm of Wafi Apps should look like. Wafi Apps is the largest online store in Bahrain, so why the interest in sports and sports development? This was an important question that I needed an answer to as it was important to me that the brand of Wafi Sports was sustainable, developmental and was transparent in everything that it did.
Wafi Apps is a strong brand, a competitor and it had to be aspirational and not able to settle at any stage for second best. It was evident from the early meetings that second best and slipshod activities would not be accepted on either side of this partnership and that other sports alongside cricket would be brought under the Wafi Sports banner. Football and basketball, in the forms of expat teams from India and the Philippines respectively sit proudly alongside cricket as ‘Wafi Falcons’. Wafi has led the way at the franchise meetings and went into the player auction in an excellent position to secure a strong yet aspirational squad. This was achieved in determined style as the required and desired squad was purchased under budget and ahead of the other franchises, who then scrambled to keep up and secure the necessary resources. Only time will tell who did the best business but the Falcons’ hierarchy left the auction in good spirits! A press launch to unveil the brand ambassador, Indian film star Mamta Mohandas, launch the Wafi Falcons logo and present the three teams and the Yuva Kerala Falcons kit was lavish and expertly mc’d by marketing manager Lyn Nell and Team Director Arjun Unnikrishnan. Mamta spoke with passion about her own life and career to inspire the gathered football and cricket Falcons. With co-owners Hanan Janahi and Jacob Thomas present to add the swagger and passion to the event, the Falcons were launched with a bang.
My scepticism is a distant memory and the answer to my question about why Wafi Apps and sports has been found. Wafi Apps is an excellent, progressive and strong brand that is aligning itself with members of the Bahrain sporting family. The links are clear and success is definitely just around the corner. The identification and development of local talent through publicity and resourcing will allow local sports teams and players to excel in competitions within Bahrain and across the GCC.