Monday, December 15, 2014

‘World Cup a big focal point for NZ’: Fleming

He has been given the mandate of promoting the upcoming Cricket World Cup and New Zealand as a destination simply by virtue of who he is. Stephen Fleming, who was in Mumbai recently to do exactly that, decided to display the distinctive Kiwi humour. 

Standing tall (tallest in the room, actually) at 6.1 feet and looking dapper in a black suit, Stephen Fleming was his casual self while promoting what he loves most – cricket. The former Black Caps captain, Stephen Fleming was on a multiple-city tour as part of the delegation that was in the country along with Tourism New Zealand and Immigration New Zealand.

Now coach to the Chennai Super Kings, Fleming has been traveling with the delegation to promote not only the World Cup but also tourism in New Zealand. “We have been very busy the last few days. We were in Sri Lanka just now and I had to be very careful with my Kiwi accent since we get very lazy with our vowels, and make sure I wasn’t promoting ‘terrorism’ instead of ‘tourism’!” he joked.

He continued in the vein saying, “I see it as a marketing challenge to make sure that the tourism categories are well separated, because an ‘adventurous honeymoon’ may be an interesting sell. There may be a market for it – who knows!”

Adding that his was an easy job, Fleming said, “When I was told seven years ago that I would be the coach for Chennai Super Kings, I thought it was an interesting vision. They said they want me to win and increase the profile of Chennai Super Kings, which will help my profile and in turn it will help more people come to New Zealand. And that’s just the way we think.”

Playing on Harbour Bridge   
As the team’s coach, Fleming is mostly based in Chennai. “I got very lucky and I feel India is my home away from home. I’m based in Chennai but I’m moving around a lot. It’s a great position to be in to be promoting both countries to the other. The World Cup is a big focal point for New Zealand and for Christchurch. It offers a wonderful opportunity to showcase what we have and also use cricket as a voice piece for New Zealand,” Fleming said.

He went on to launch a promotional video created by Tourism New Zealand that features Andy Bichel, Damian Fleming, Chris Harris and Fleming himself with a special cameo by Kiwi cricket legend Richard Hadlee. The video shows them warming up for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 on the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge. “It took my cricket to a new height. It’s safe to say that the Kiwis won this match,” Fleming quipped.

“We want Indians to become more aware of our country and the holiday options that are available here. It really is a holiday of a lifetime. We have nature, adventure, romantic holidays, family holidays for all ages, and we are now trying to use cricket to get you to visit our beautiful country,” he said.

When asked about what other sport he would play apart from cricket, Fleming said it would be rugby. “It’s our number one sport and our biggest export. Our rugby team is one of the most successful ones in the world. However, rugby is not overly popular in the subcontinent or the rest of the world. We are therefore using cricket wherever it’s popular to generate a lot of interest. Sports plays an important part in the way we promote our country but that’s because we are very recreational and sports plays a big role in our lifestyle,” he added.

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