Almarai Company is the largest dairy foods company in the Middle East. They are not only well-known for providing healthful and quality food products more so charitable donations and sponsorship of various events promoting social causes most especially annual tournaments. These include basketball, bowling, cricket, golf, horse racing, motorcycle & car racing, and the hot off the press badminton that started this year. Nothing puts into action the company’s endeavor to enhance their employees’ well-being better than encouraging them to live a healthy life and be physically fit through these sporting events.
The initiatives of the Almarai Badminton Enthusiasts (ABE) to hold a separate tournament called 1st CFO Badminton Tournament 2013 came into realization when the sponsorship of the Almarai Company’s Chief Financial Officer, Paul Louis-Gay, with the help of the Group Finance Manager–Joint Ventures & Investor Relations, Ikram Ulhaque, was sought. It must be noted that there were already two tournaments (Almarai Badminton Tournament Season 1 [February 02–27] & Season 2 [May 04–June 03]) held in the first and second quarter of this year. These asseverate that Almarai is really steadfast in putting the welfare of their employees on the top of their priorities.
The 1st CFO Badminton Tournament 2013–Men’s Doubles comprised 40 teams (80 players) from the company’s Head Office. The two previous tournaments intermixed the players regardless of their levels of play. What’s new and unique about this round robin tournament is the division of the teams into two levels or categories—Level A (for Experienced Players) and Level B (for Beginners). There were 16 teams for Level A and 24 teams for Level B. All teams were equally distributed into 4 brackets for each level. Brackets 1 and 2 form Group 1 while Brackets 3 and 4 constitute Group 2. The top 2 teams (i.e., based on accumulated team points) from each bracket in the elimination round will advance to the second round and then the top 2 teams of both groups therein will traverse to the semi-final round, which is played by best of 3. The 4 teams that will make it to the semis are called Super 4. That’s the only time where the top 2 teams (i.e., based on accumulated points) of Groups 1 and 2 come face to face with each other (i.e., Top 1 of Group 1 will fight against Top 2 of Group 2 and vice versa) to determine what teams will fight for the coveted championship and 3rd place, which are both played, again, by best of 3.
Medals, rackets, and trophies were at stake.
The tournament ran for a month at the Almarai Head Office Villa’s badminton court in Exit 7, Al-Izdihar District, Riyadh City. All the players were present during the Opening Ceremony in the night of September 06 because of one thing: the drawing lots, which determined the teams’ respective games schedule. But what invaded the night was the deafening roars of the players driven by their burning desires to take any of the luminous trophies and medals rousing the stage, which was further ignited by the presence of Messrs. Paul Louis-Gay and Ikram Ulhaque, who literally kicked the tournament off with their superb ceremonial toss and inspiring messages. The competition proper began last September 08 and regular games were played on weekdays from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM. The tournament was successfully concluded last October 03.
There were a multitude of people—predominated by Almarai employees and organizers headed by the tournament’s chairman, Enrico Abad—who witnessed the most awaited finals’ night. The matches for 3rd place and championship took place from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM and the Awards Ceremony ensued.
The said ceremony was facilitated by Ikram Ulhaque, Yasantha Fonseka (Divisional Finance Manager of the Quality and Product Development Division), and Enrico Abad. This season, the colossal names to be remembered for Level A are Jayakrishnan Nair & Sasikumar Pillai who bagged the championship, with Sibin Anthony & Sony Joseph Eapen as their runners-up, and Leonel Mark Tuscano & Sonyboy Fugaban who clinched 3rd place against Junga Thapa Magar & Narayan Parajuli (4th placers). For Level B, the champion trophy was taken home by Saleim Baji & Mudassar Gheewale, with Shajahan Aliyar & Anoop Maranath as second placers, and Frederick Obana & Lito Villamor who aced 3rd place against Robert Bondoc & Mark Jensen Herrera (4th placers). The Sportsmanship Awards were bestowed on select players namely Suresh Kambiranda & Ramakrishna Setty of Level A and Redentor Esguerra & Edwin David of Level B. These players exuded that exemplary fighting spirit from their very first and last games even though they never won a match—a true mark of sportsmanship.
“A Celebration of Health and Fitness” is the tournament’s theme. It aims at promoting health and fitness through badminton, improving the employees’ physical and mental well-being, boosting the employees’ morale, satisfaction, and general happiness, and above all, fostering team work among employees. Sport is one of the most unifying activities any company can utilize to wring that esprit de corps out.
The final matches and the Awards Ceremony gave such a spectacle that night. To witness the clamor of the Almarai crowd cheering on the mightiest players during that moment is an experience to cherish. It reflects how employees from the company’s different departments cohere for one common goal. In the same manner, they bring that sense of cohesiveness to the workplace. As always, this is the very core of Almarai’s sports sponsorship endeavors.
Kudos to Almarai Company most especially Paul Louis-Gay (CFO) and its sporting events organizers particularly in this tournament namely Avelino Apostol, Thomas Ledesma, Ronald Quising, Owen Marte, Ace Galleta, Anthony Esguerra, Arwin Balason, Mark Arnais, John Nimuan, Arnold Santillan, Richard Kirong, Dilpzir Khan, Prakash Khatri, Abhay Kumar, Mohammad Mujeeb, Tabrej Irfan, Christian Ayade, Miguel Alarcon, Daniel Desiderio, and the couple Dra. Doeleth Gatdula & Mr. Nemen Cabatuando.
(Photo Credit: Adonis Escoto)
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