Living a healthy and nutritious life is more popular than ever, but in a region like the Gulf where education for the younger generation is perhaps lacking, Raman Singh reveals it was a “no brainer” for leading healthcare organisation Mundipharma to partner with Premier League giants Manchester City.
Mundipharma’s Betadine range is the official healthcare product partner of Abu Dhabi-owned City and the two co-hosted a two-day youth football camp taking place in the UAE capital last month.
Former City striker Paul Dickov was in attendance to pass on his knowledge to budding stars of the future at the IPIC Arena on September 7 and Singh, Mundipharma vice president for the MENA region, said associating themselves with one of the world’s leading clubs is the ideal way to drum in the importance of a healthy lifestyle to youngsters in the UAE.
“It’s a lot more beneficial for Mundipharma and Betadine to team up with a football club like Manchester City which can raise eyebrows, people notice and want to get involved. It’s a win-win for both,” said Singh.
“Healthcare in general is quite reactive. If you fall sick you take medication. I personally believe we need to move from reactive to proactive.
“How do you make sure you have measures in place so you don’t fall ill? Whether it’s by taking medication so you don’t fall sick or healthy living, having sports as a key aspect of your life so you stay fit.
“It’s very important for us to tie up with the next generation. We start from the grassroots to instill healthy lifestyle in children. So it makes sense to collaborate. We get a chance to communicate with kids.
“The key problem today is you have lifestyle illnesses, like diabetes and blood pressure. A lot of it is down to good eating, not having enough good living. Being in front of the computer and eating junk food.
“So it’s important we get education out there in a manner they can receive. Make it entertaining and engaging.”
Aside from partnering with a club known both in the Emirates, Britain and internationally, Singh explained that the partnership is not based solely on simply being a big name.
City’s status as a brilliant but still emerging force is something Singh said resonates with Mundipharma.
Mundipharma’s Raman Singh (3rd r) with Dickov (2nd l)
He added: “Initially it started for the emerging markets last year. We thought Man City has been extremely popular in the developing world. The football is popular so we wanted to tie up with a brand that has a similar ethos value as us.
“In it for the long run and more of a fighting brand, aspiring to be number one but not quite there yet. Building blocks and foundations to get there.
“And Mundipharma is like that, we’re market leaders in some places, not in others so we wanted to tie up with a well-known brand where we could both gain leverage. We’re converting the emerging markets partnership into a global partnership.”
What started out as an initial one-year deal has now transformed into a three-year bond, something Singh is keen to point out is indicative of the importance with which they hold the Gulf region.
“It’s calculated not random. It’s not a one-year partnership, it’s strategic and long term and we want to grow as they’re growing,” said Singh, who revealed the company hope to grow throughout the MENA region as well as possibly look at setting up more links to sports teams and athletes.
“We have a history of partnering with sports people. We’ve partnered with Caroline Wozniacki in the past so this is not something that’s happened by accident. We’ve taken it to another level with Man City. We’re hoping it will be a stepping stone to something bigger.
“The UAE is a very strategic market for us. We came here in 2013, relatively young. It’s been encouraging the last four years but we wanted to take it to another level, hence the collaboration.
“It has a lot of benefits for the UAE and the Gulf region. The Premier League is extremely popular here, Man City is extremely popular, so this is for us a flagship programme, a poster child that we could replicate in other parts of the world.
“We’ve just switched the partnership from being popular in the developing world to having more of a global reach. It’s a three-year deal now so we’re logged in until 2020 and hopefully beyond.
“The first year has been extremely positive which is why we’ve extended the partnership and we hope it will grow from strength to strength. The idea is to expand the programme to other parts of the Middle East, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia.”
As for Dickov, the Scotsman was impressed by the attitude and skills on display over the two-day camp on his first visit to Abu Dhabi. But he wasn’t surprised that City are thriving in the Emirates.
“What City are doing here with Mundipharma, it’s wonderful,” said Dickov, who made more than 150 appearances for City in two spells between 1996-2002 and 2006-08.
“It’s not the first one I’ve come out on, I went to Singapore a few months ago with Betadine and coming here to Abu Dhabi is fantastic. It’s my first time here. It’s City’s seventh year here and they have 1,500 kids.
“They’re brought up in the Man City way and what they’re trying to do here is fantastic. It’s taken time but they’ve slowly but surely got players throughout the age group that are really talented.
“I was expecting it to be this big because I know how the club does things, they do it properly, so whether it’s in Manchester or here or New York, Melbourne. I knew it’d be great.”
And having now teamed up with Mundipharma, Dickov believes the next generation of potential City players are better equipped than any other previous generation to become future footballers.
“The coaches are working on technical aspects, but showing them how to look after themselves properly,” said Dickov.
“Making them aware of health, which is obviously a big factor these days. Teaching them life skills as well as football skills. And the kids have been a joy to work with, there’s some talented players but the attitude and application has been great too.
“They get nutritional programmes to follow now. When I was a kid we’d get given a programme in pre-season if we were lucky but today obesity is a big problem all around the world so raising importance at a young age is vital.
“The younger you can teach them something they’ll carry it on throughout their lives.”