Badminton: Singapore Badminton Association enjoys $500k boost

SBA president Lee Yi Shyan (third from right), Luke Lim, group chief executive officer of Louken Group (second from right) and some of the representatives of donor companies.
SBA president Lee Yi Shyan (third from right), Luke Lim, group chief executive officer of Louken Group (second from right) and some of the representatives of donor companies.PHOTO: SINGAPORE BADMINTON ASSOCIATION

Funds from OUE and local firms will help defray allowances and overseas travel costs

With the Olympic qualifying window open and local shuttlers in the hunt for precious points on the international circuit, expenditure on overseas travel is expected to skyrocket in the next few months for the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA).

But the association received a timely boost yesterday in the form of a $500,000 cash contribution.

Singapore-listed real estate developer OUE, also the title sponsor of the Singapore Open, contributed $200,000 while 22 local businesses, including Charles & Keith, Scanteak and Jumbo Group of Restaurants, came up with the remainder.

It is the result of a fund-raising effort by Luke Lim, group chief executive officer of local brand growth and communication company Louken Group.

GREATER BACKING

The local business community was very supportive. I can see the (CSR) trend shifting towards local sports.

LUKE LIM, group CEO of Louken Group, on the fund-raising process

The 41-year-old vice-president of the SBA is also donating the proceeds of yesterday's pre-launch of his book Brand Bull Run, which focuses on fast-growing brands in Singapore, to the SBA.

SBA president Lee Yi Shyan said the funds will largely go towards the costs involved in sending national players overseas for competition and their development.

"Most of the SBA's expenditure lies in players' training allowances and the expenditure pertaining to their overseas competitions," said Mr Lee, who is also an MP for East Coast GRC. "In order to give them the kind of exposure needed to develop world-class skills, we have to send them to various competitions. We of course have (funding) from Sport Singapore but we also need donations and sponsorship from various sectors."

The timely injection of funds comes on the back of a series of positives for the SBA in recent weeks.

World No. 85 Liang Xiaoyu, 19, posted the biggest win of her fledgling career when she upset 2013 world champion and world No. 8 Ratchanok Intanon at the Thailand Open this month.

Yeo Jia Min followed up by taking the Under-17 singles title at the Badminton Asia Junior Championships, before partnering Crystal Wong to win the doubles event.

Said Mr Lee: "We have two tasks ahead of us now. One is for the older players to continue to play well on the international circuit so some of them will qualify for the Olympics. For the younger ones... we can develop them for the next Olympics, and in between there are many important Games to sharpen their skills.

"We will focus on them and make sure they have enough exposure and have good training regimens to bring them to where they should be. The money will go a long way to helping our players excel."

The senior players are slated to compete at the Brazil Open next month, the test event ahead of next year's Rio Olympics. Juniors like Jia Min are pencilled in for the World Junior Championships in Peru.

New chief coach Chua Yong Joo told The Straits Times that Singapore's best chances of qualifying for the Olympics lie in the singles and mixed doubles.

He said: "The recent results have been a morale boost for the team. They've adapted well to the recent changes and the team of coaches have been doing a good job."

Meanwhile, Louken's Lim, who took less than a month to raise the $300,000 for the SBA, said that while more businesses are taking on corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, he also hopes more will support local sports.

He said: "The process (of getting support) was a very easy journey. The local business community was very supportive. I can see the (CSR) trend shifting towards local sports.

"We adopted the SBA because we want to create a movement for the local business community to support local sports here.

"I think this is a good start."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'BADMINTON ENJOYS $500K BOOST'. Print Edition | Subscribe