x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The man behind the plan in the capital

Logging in long hours and undertaking multiple responsibilities are all in a day’s work and pleasure for Abu Dhabi Cricket Club's project manager Fahad Akhlaq.

Fahad Akhlaq, is Abu Dhabi Cricket Club’s project manager. Sammy Dallal / The National
Fahad Akhlaq, is Abu Dhabi Cricket Club’s project manager. Sammy Dallal / The National

Fahad Akhlaq is one of those lucky people who is paid to do something they love.

There was “a feeling of joy” for him when the first Test between Pakistan and South Africa got underway this month at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Akhlaq is Abu Dhabi Cricket Club’s (ADCC) project manager and it has been his job to help Pakistan’s games in the capital – one Test and two ODIs with South Africa – run smoothly.

“We have been working more than 15 hours a day for the last 10 days to get everything in place,” he said on the opening day of the first Test.

“My responsibility is to make sure the venues are ready, as per the minimum standard put in place by the ICC.

“We provide practising facilities for both teams and oversee the needs and requirements of the spectators.”

That is hardly the end of Akhlaq’s responsibilities.

He looks after marketing, promotion, ticket sales, venue management, security arrangements, and dealing with the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit.

“We feel we have a competition with other sports in the country, like the Formula One, golf, tennis, football and the list goes on.

“So we need to improve our facilities and improve our standards for our fans and promote Abu Dhabi as a global stage for cricket.”

Akhlaq has been involved in UAE cricket since 2008.

He handled Pakistan’s previous series with New Zealand, South Africa, and Sri Lanka.

“When I got a chance to be associated in cricket, I couldn’t believe that I got this opportunity.

“I was employed in Dubai at the time and I heard we were getting a project to work in cricket,” Akhlaq, who now works as a freelancer, said.

“I get a combo package here. Cricket is in my blood. I grew up in Karachi, where the game is a religion. Our heroes were Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram.

“Cricket is a passion for me, organising it is a challenge for me, and I will put my passion and the challenge together to get the best out of it.”

Akhlaq’s work with the ADCC does not stop with the series between Pakistan and South Africa.

Abu Dhabi is gearing up for its busiest season, with the World Twenty20 qualifier, followed by Pakistan’s home series against Sri Lanka, the Under 19 Asia Cup, and the U19 World Cup. Akhlaq, who says he has not had a day off since arriving in Abu Dhabi last month, will be there every step of the way.

apassela@thenational.ae

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