Cricket for a Cause is the brainchild of Ashar Yahya, a 17-year-old Dubai schoolboy, who aims to raise more than Dh45,000 this week for Dubai Cares in an attempt to help underprivileged kids in developing countries.
The Dubai College pupil already has Dh43,000 in the bank after generous donations from a number of sponsors as well as the minimum team entry fee of Dh300.
That figure will increase with daily matches taking place until next Tuesday where sale of food and beverages will add to the total.
That is a vast improvement from last year when more than Dh13,000 was raised in the eight-team competition. That sum was boosted thanks to inaugural champions Emax giving every single dirham of their Dh1,300 prize money to the cause.
“Cricket is a sport that I’m very passionate about and having won an entrepreneurial business plan competition, I wanted to do something in the same context and this was where the idea was born,” Yahya said.
Last year’s edition took six months to put together with Yahya spending his free time on weekends to work on the project.
This year, the youngster put even more hours – nine months altogether, that involved pitching to sponsors and brainstorming to raise even more funds.
His hard work proved worthwhile with 16 teams, including sponsors Careem and Ladybird Nurseries, signing up for the week-long event at Dubai’s Cover Drive Academy in Al Quoz. It could have been more with many corporate and social teams showing interest.
“This year, we got the word out a lot sooner and we were able to get more entries,” he said.
“We could have got more teams but I figured it just wasn’t possible to fit so many group and knock-out games in a one-week period.”
The competition has already proven to be hit with players who understand the importance of the initiative.
“Players are enjoying it and they know if they get out, they won’t make a big fuss. They realise they are playing for charity and that’s the main thing,” he said.
Asked why he chose Dubai Cares as the beneficiary, Yahya replied: “They focus on children by helping them with education and giving them food and are one of the biggest charities in the UAE.”
Despite the success, Yahya remains hungry as ever to raise more funds.
“I’m looking to take this forward and expand it. I’ll be going to university soon so I’ll be looking for people to take this forward.”