Tape-ball cricket in Karachi has grown with the start of Ramazan, the lucrative night events and the hefty prize-money ensuring participation from all over the country.
An average player, according to Nabeel Khalid, who plays for Al-Hafeez Club, can earn in the region of Rs 15,000 to 30,000 as well as expenses and a share of the winning prize, if the team gets that far.
“The top players, though, can end up with Rs 65,000 to Rs 85,000 in just Ramazan which helps them settle their debts,” Khalid told The Express Tribune before adding that interior Sindh played hosts to the most lucrative tournaments where earnings can reach the six-figure mark.
“The rich people in Sanghar, Nawabshah and Tanda Wala Yar call players from all over the country where events carry winning prize-money of up to Rs 400,000. In addition, betting is prevalent in those events and from there, even the players stand to 20 to 30 per cent of the winnings if he helps the bookie win.”
In Karachi, one-night Ramazan events carry prize-money worth Rs 200,000 as well as a motorbike. However, organising such an event can prove to be a nasty headache.
“It’s not that easy to organise competitions in Ramazan,” said Sharjeel Ali Khan, a tournament organiser. “It’s hectic but profitable for as well. This year, I am hosting a 32-team competition at the Country Club which offers Rs 200,000 prize-money.”
Sharjeel revealed that the interest was such that players were approached through organisers to change their loyalties and switch teams, much like the IPL.
The well known teams - Al-Hafeez, Nazimabad Kids, Seventy Sixers, Eaton, Model Sports, Erum Sports and Sunday Cricket Club - are renowned for their deep interest and investment.
“I spend nearly Rs 300,000 in this month because I have this craze to run a cricket franchise,” said Affan Ahmed, the man behind Nazimabad Kids.
“Sometime I’m able to recover the amount if the team wins a tournament while at other times, I don’t see it again. That’s part of business.”
Away from the business and financial side, some take part in such events to enjoy the sport and take time out of their busy schedules. For others, it’s Eid a few weeks too early.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.
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