Recollection of after-Fajr football in Nairobi and how religious practice crosses over at the club is a further motivation for Saheel. ‘Those days are some of my most memorable,’ Saheel says proudly. ‘There was also a good deal of heavy handedness from my missus to get on board,’ as Saheel talks of his SJ Ladies Vice Chairlady wife. Sometimes it pays to acknowledge the real boss of the house! As our discussions come to a close, I’m minded of how there really seems to be a coordinated focus emerging. It’s warming to see and suggests a very encouraging future.
A one-to-one with Nairobi-born, Saheel Walji is a must if you really want to understand the finance and funding strategies of the incoming Stanmore Jafferys committee. Quietly reflective in the group dynamic, Saheel comes into his own up close and personal. Our talks start out with discussions around the work from home dynamic and what flexible working really means in the COVID environment as it becomes clear the long hours this young man is putting into his role in real estate financing for corporate banking clients. We then move on to shared experiences at Nairobi Jaffery Sports Club in the expansive Lavington area of the city, where I can recall having some fantastic poussin chicken and fish amidst the well-organised and hospitable Supreme Council Sports Festivals.
Some commonalities are quickly arising within this committee. Saheel, the son of Shabbir and Minaz, comes from a background where community support is held dearly. His father, especially committed to Seniors’ service is well known in the Seniors fraternity whilst his mother is a long-serving madressa teacher. The enthusiasm in Saheel’s voice for volunteering at sports events as a gateway to community service is apparent when he talks of his roles in logistics and ushering support at Nairobi’s last festival in 2016. ‘We need to host such events if we want to develop in our youth the spirit of service. The public confidence and desire to develop through such activity is instrumental’. Experiences initially at the festival, spurred Saheel on further and he took up positions initially as a Youth Committee Treasurer and then later on as a Treasurer for the Nairobi Jaffery Academy School Board. In taking up position at Stanmore Jafferys, Saheel takes much delight from leveraging his finance experiences in the service of not only the community but what he extends to the Imam of our time as well.
‘Establishment of our own club,’ Saheel answers in a flash when asked what he would constitute as success in his term as Treasurer. And once again, one is immediately drawn to how this goal is the binding agent of the incoming committee. ‘I saw the fruits of our elders’ labour in Nairobi. I experienced how it bonded us as brothers and how it came to be the social hub that assisted our religious endeavours. I want that for the children and youngsters here’. Saheel is only too aware of the rising cost of land and real estate in this part of the world, but is already thinking up fundraising strategies to ensure we will be able to contribute to this ourselves. ‘We need to organise more club events. We can do the standard family fun days and carnivals, but our events will not only bring the community together, but also be key in the drive to raise money for our flagship centre.’