A superb performance in volleyball, table tennis and badminton saw Naffco emerge as surprise champions of the Corporate Sports Summer Tournament, which built to a thrilling climax at Dubai Sports World on Saturday.
Naffco, the leaders in fire safety equipment in the middle east, came from nowhere to win the overall points tally from early pace-setters Amazon followed by ENOC, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Emirates.
“We feel amazing,” said an elated Hiba Khan, HR Training Manager at Naffco, after the presentation ceremony. “Volleyball, we were champions, table tennis we were champions and badminton as well … so Naffco all the way.”
“We participated in the first Corporate Sports Championship earlier this year and it was amazing for everyone, word as mouth as well.
“So we got double the teams this time and they were all very excited. Everything was great, the arrangements, everyone was happy and we go back home with all the awards.”
Earlier Naffco took out a highly animated volleyball final against DHA 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-19) noticeable for the combination of men and women on both teams.
Although they finished only third in the volleyball Ramzi Semaan, a member of the ebullient Emirates team, said he was: “feeling great, it was a great tournament.”
“Lot of teams, a really good level and we had good fun. Had a good few games and great organization.”
Semaan said volleyball was a core activity for one of the world’s leading airline: “At Emirates there’s 20,000 people, we are always flying.
“But we have a dedicated team (of volleyball players), we try to practice and play as long as we’re on the ground. Whenever we have a chance to play, we play and we’re all good friends. People change but the team is still there.”
In table tennis it was Joey Baguiwa from Naffco, repeating his success from the Corporate Sports Championship, taking out the men’s singles.
In badminton Jomin and Abhi flew the flag for Naffco taking out the doubles.
Three of the most hotly contested sports on the day were basketball, football and cricket, with the quality on show at times almost professional standard.
The first semi-final in basketball saw Amazon 2 edge out previously undefeated Amazon 1, 87-83 in an over-time thriller.
“We actually have a very competitive culture inside Amazon,” explained Marcello Correa, Project Manager at Amazon, who starred for Amazon 2.
“So there’s a lot of basketball players, we actually could have put another three or four teams if we wanted to,” he continued.
“It was very competitive, they have very good players on their side. We had to recover with some losses, we had some teammates missing, so it was an extra challenge for us but it was a lot of fun. To go down to overtime, it was nice.
“We’ll be able to talk about this a long time inside the company. We’ll definitely have about three or four months of bragging rights, I’ll be seeing them around, they’ll be hearing about this game for a long time.”
Commenting on the overall Tournament Correa said it had generated a lot of buzz in the Amazon offices.
“For Amazon, inside our offices and the Fulfilment Centre it has been the talk for the last month, not just in basketball but we have a very competitive team in badminton, even table tennis.
“It has been very well organised, we are very happy to participate and be part of the event and we look forward to it happening every year. This is exciting for us.”
Unfortunately Correa could not lift his side in the final as they were well beaten by an impressive Emirates team, 66-48, with Ronald “Wax” Walker from Emirates taking out the MVP award.
The surprise packet in football were ZEROFAT, a company only founded in 2016 with just 150 employees, who reached the final with a stunning 8-4 win over Dubai Immigration in the semi-finals.
Asked the secret of their success Mohammad Alhashmi, Founder and CEO of ZEROFAT explained: “First teamwork, we always work as a team and (we have) the winning mentality. And of course we are all healthy.”
“Before our competition we had a nutritionist who focused on our team, so we have been eating a lot of healthy food. We had a plan for each individual player to prepare him physically for this competition.”
Alhashmi said the Tournament was “great for the employees to go out from their typical routine environment. They express their feelings, their power and they put it on the field.”
He also noted the great B2B opportunities Corporate Sports Tournaments provide.
“The good thing is the connection between corporates,” said Alhashmi, “we got to know new people, new faces, which is really great. And we would really like to thank Corporate Sports for organizing this great tournament.”
ZEROFAT met their match in the football final however as a slick Dubai Customs side triumphed 5-4, with a superb hat-trick from captain Saood Khalfan Saeed.
It was another thriller in the cricket final with Amazon getting home by one run on the final ball against ENOC, 42-41.
Speaking after the awards ceremony where trophies, medals and AED31,000 in cash prizes was presented to the winners, Mohammed Husary, CEO and Founder of Corporate Sports said the Tournament signalled a busy time ahead for the UAE’s corporate sports leaders.
“We are building momentum now to our major event, the Corporate Sports Championship,” said Husary, “which will be held on February 28 and 29, next year.”
“Registrations open on September 15 for over 17 sports and activities including new additions for 2020 chess, archery and darts.”
In another exciting addition Husary announced Corporate Sports will soon be launching a “corporate champions league” in basketball and football, bringing the best corporate teams together in an elite tournament kicking off in October.
“This new elite league will bring together the best of the best to find out who is the No.1 corporate teams in basketball and football.”