As UAE cricketers prepare for World Twenty20 Qualifier in Kuwait, captain Rohan Mustafa lends a helping hand
With fee and prize money he made for playing tournament in Nepal, Mustafa intends to set up foundation for underprivileged children in his native Pakistan, in name of his father
Rohan Mustafa is not complaining about the workload facing UAE cricketers. Indeed, he is revelling in it.
But the national team captain does have some grand plans the next time he gets a stretch of time off from representing the country.
So far in 2018, the UAE have had a one-day international tri-series against Scotland and Ireland. They played the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia.
Then there was the 2019 World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, which culminated in UAE cricket’s greatest ever day, when they beat the host nation – their first win ever against a Test nation.
Less than a month on, they are back on national duty, playing a tournament in Kuwait that marks the start of qualifying process for the World Twenty20 in Australia in 2020.
In between Zimbabwe and Kuwait, Mustafa managed to fit in a highly-successful tour to Nepal, where he played as an overseas player in a T20 tournament. Remarkably, he managed to play in two finals in two countries in the space of a little over 24 hours – and won both.
While he is entirely focused on helping UAE through the six-team tournament in Kuwait, Mustafa acknowledges he does have his mind on another project, too.
On the flight to Kathmandu, followed by the ensuing 70-minute flight to the west of Nepal for the Dhangadhi Premier League (DPL), he hatched an idea.
With the fee he was given for playing, he wanted to set up a foundation for underprivileged children back in his native Pakistan, in the name of his father Mustafa Kamal, who died when Mustafa was 14.
When he was later gifted a motorbike for being named the DPL’s most valuable player, rather than worrying about exporting it back to Dubai, he arranged to cash it in instead. He plans to funnel those funds into to his new initiative, too.
“I haven’t got the time to go to Pakistan now to set up a foundation, but it is my dream right now to open a small one in my father’s name,” Mustafa said.
“My father’s dream was for me to play for Pakistan, but I was living in UAE. To represent the country, and to be the captain has been a great achievement for me.
“Whenever I get good things for being man of the match, I donate it under my father’s name. When I was flying to Nepal, it occurred to me to open a small foundation in my father’s name.
“I can’t afford many people. But if there are two or three children who don’t have a father, hopefully I can do something to support them. What I earn is not so much that I can afford to do this for 10 or 15 people. Two, three or four, maybe."
Mustafa has form for this sort of thing. When he has landed cash-prizes for excellence in tournaments in Ajman or Al Dhaid, for example, in the past, he has immediately passed them on to the groundsmen.
And he arranged to divert the money he won for being man of the match in the final in Dhangadhi to a local charity, as a way of saying thanks for the welcome he was given there.
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“It was great playing in front of that tremendous crowd,” Mustafa said.
“There were 5,000 inside and 2,000 outside waiting for tickets. The team I was playing for was Dhangadhi, and we were playing in Dhangadhi, so we had the home crowd.
“They were supporting me very much. It was very good for me. They were shouting ‘Rohan! Rohan! Do it for our team!’ It was a really great experience.”
Mustafa’s charitable nature off the field contrasts with his feistiness on it. But UAE coach Dougie Brown said he was not surprised by the generosity of his captain.
“That was a hell of a thing to do,” Brown said. “I think it tells you everything you need to know about Rohan. He is a very, very good guy and a very good cricketer.
“If we are going to progress to the World T20 in two years’ time, we are going to need the best of him as a player and as captain.”
Updated: April 18, 2018 09:38 PM