It was an idea floated around a group of four people working in the same office, in a coffee table discussion 11 years back, and that idea has become the largest futsal tournament in the Maldives. Just like how maldivesoccer.com started, Club Maldives started with only four people and the membership have grown, just like the tournaments that they have hosted.
Even though the tournaments hosted by Club Maldives Cup is held annually for a month long, the best thing is the level of planning into details and the level of improvement each year. Speaking to maldivescoccer.com, one of the four founding members of Club Maldives, Moosa Rameez noted that even when they started, they wanted it to be big.
“We didn’t want to have a small tournament for the sake of it. We wanted it big from the start. We targeted to host the tournament initially for 48 teams, but managed nearly to get 16 teams in the first year of the competition. After 11 years, now we have 36 teams in men’s tournament and in 6 years of women’s tournament we now have 16 teams. Even before we opened for participation in the first year, we checked the level of support we would get, the level of participation, the level of sponsorship and the difficulties we would face in hosting the tournaments.”
Volunteers and friends are all assigned to each activity ranging from ball boys to ground operations. But the best part about it is everyone in the team fills in for everyone. Club Maldives Cup and Women’s Futsal Fiesta are known for their consistency in delivery and the level of participation from the top elites of Futsal including foreign players. The President of Maldives and First Lady even inaugurated one of the tournaments two years back.
The key sponsors for Club Maldives over the years have remained almost the same and they give top priority to fulfill the demands of the sponsors. Rameez noted that its key not to expect bigger amounts from sponsors and focus on branding ideas which the organisers can do to showcase the sponsors brands.
“The key for Club Maldives is to finish every tournament without a loss. We do not look for financial gain from the tournament. We never expect huge amount of sponsorship from any of our sponsor. If we expect bigger amounts for sponsors, we would get disappointed. Specially when we started it was all undervalued. But now, everyone trusts us and they accept the tournament’s viability. Now, the larger companies want to become sponsors of Club Maldives Futsal tournament. They key is to give our sponsors chance to showcase their products and branding and for us to gain enough finances to host the tournament. Sponsors are vital for us and we value their help. Nestle, Allied Insurance, Allora and Dhiraagu have been key sponsors for a long time and we try to maintain them.”
Club Maldives Cup also have improved over the years by introducing new and innovative ideas each year, including bringing live updates from the matches, electronic boards and even specific balls for the tournament.
“We all value the contribution from all of our volunteers. We all gather up for coffees to discuss innovative new ideas. Someone might propose to record all the matches. So then, we would try bring that idea into life. Some might be jokes and some might be serious ideas. We would never reject any idea. We would give the person who proposed the idea to bring it to reality. Match updates for example is not an easy task, but with that idea now we have around 4 to 5 applications. All of them are innovative ideas. We also tried to insert chips into shoes, but it’s a bit difficult with the venue we host the tournament. We never give credit to one person, but to the whole team”
“There is a Chairman, Vice Chairman and General Secretary. Very few people will know who they are. But it’s the team. When we start to take credit, then the team spirit will be gone. We are all volunteers and none of us get any financial gain from the tournament.”
One of the best parts of Club Maldives Cup is that they are not looking at their competitors. They want more tournaments of large scale and noted the disappointment after the organizers of Rainbow Cup decided to terminate the tournament
Even though they have ideas on hosting more tournaments, their time does not permit them to do so. The organizing team are all volunteers and they all have various jobs.
One of the biggest difficulty is lack of a venue to host the tournament. The current futsal pitch is full of rocks and they spend a lot of time to level the ground and maintain it for the one month long tournament.
“There is no adequate place for us to host the tournament. We can’t host the tournament in FAM turf grounds as the first division teams needs to practice during the season. But that’s not something we can resolve too quick. However, the Government have been facilitating us to each and every request. There has never been a negative answer from the government”
“We would like to thank everyone who helped us including sponsors, friends, volunteers and the media. When we started we never knew anyone in the media. The only media that trusted and talked to us was maldivesoccer.com and we are grateful for that”
Like everyone else, Club Maldives also dream big, and their dream is for Maldives to host AFC or World Futsal Tournament in the Maldives. They believe that its not a huge feat to achieve.
“We want Maldives to host the World Futsal Tournament or AFC Futsal Tournament. That’s our dream. That’s something we can achieve with the limited facilities available for us.”