KARACHI: With the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) now just three weeks away, Lahore Qalandars have once again sped up efforts to create hype ahead of the action-packed competition.
The franchise has been visiting various educational institutes and engaging fans to keep them connected with Pakistan’s biggest cricketing event.
Qalandars have been doing fan engagement activities ever since season one, and throughout the year, whether it is about making music videos or organising countrywide talent hunt programmes aimed at developing players’ skills.
Last year, Qalandars kicked off their much-acclaimed player development programme in August from the country’s northern area of Gilgit-Baltistan, and travelled to 11 different cities to hold trials which were followed by a tournament that was broadcasted live on Geo Super.
The tournament, played in Muzaffarabad and Lahore, produced some exceptional talent for Pakistan cricket in general and Lahore Qalandars in particular.
Soon after the tournament concluded, the Qalandars formed a squad, a mixture of experienced and rookies, to play in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Cup. They went to tournament as underdogs and returned as winners.
Days after the Abu Dhabi Cup, Qalandars flew to Sydney to play the Quinn series against some top sides of Australia’s Big Bash League.
All these activities, according to the management of Qalandars, were aimed at promoting Pakistan cricket and support the country’s biggest brand, Pakistan Super League.
Haris Rauf, Hasnain Shah and Dilber Hussain during Quin series in Australia
“Qalandars are there because of PSL, if PSL grows Qalandars would grow, if Qalandars grow, PSL would grow,” said Lahore Qalandars CEO Atif Rana.
According to stats provided to Geo.tv of the first two editions of PSL, Qalandars’ marketing and activations spending stood at a massive 40% of the total spending by all franchises and leagues.
They spent over $15 million in the first two editions including PSL operations and franchise fees. An official from Lahore Qalandars confirmed that of the total spending, around $3 million was spent on branding and activation of PSL.
“We believe that cricket is a unifying factor in Pakistan and our activities have proved it, we have connected north from south and west from east of the country through our cricketing and branding activities,” said Rana.
“We believe that we play a major part in promotion of PSL as well through all these activities which is now Pakistan’s biggest brand, and this makes us different. We may have been last in the PSL on-field, but off the field our activities are unmatched,” he added.
Aqib Javed and Inzamam-ul-Haq in Hunza Valley
On the sidelines of cricket, the management of Lahore Qalandars has also stepped up to promote tourism in Pakistan by taking its convoy that included top stars like Shoaib Akhtar, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Aqib Javed to some of the most beautiful tourism spots.
The Qalandars toured Naltar Valley, Altit Fort, Attabad Lake, Hunza Valley and Pir Chinasi telling the world about the hidden beauty of Pakistan.
To unify different communities of Pakistan, the Qalandars produced eight songs in different languages during this season which received overwhelming response from the fans.
With the PSL getting bigger and better every season, it is important to acknowledge the role Lahore Qalandars are playing throughout the year via their activities to make it a household name.
PSL will, without any doubt, grow further. One hopes that the PCB and franchises will continue to support each other to keep it going, so that Pakistan cricket can continue to flourish.