Sailing: Kitefoiling receives a boost with support from Yeo's, Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation

Yeo's and NTFCF signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Singapore kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder. PHOTO: LLOYD IMAGES/OMAN SAIL

SINGAPORE - Kitefoiling in Singapore received a big push on Friday (March 25) as local beverage company Yeo Hiap Seng (Yeo's) and the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation (NTFCF) announced that they would be supporting the Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) and its athletes over the next three years.

Yeo's and NTFCF signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Singapore kitefoiler Maximilian Maeder, 15, who is gunning for a spot at the 2024 Paris Olympics, where the discipline will make its debut.

The teenager is riding high after winning the Formula Kite Youth (Under-19) World Championships, the European Championships and the World Sailing Youth (U-19) World Championships in 2021.

Earlier this month, he also clinched the gold medal at the Formula Kite Asia Pacific Championships.

While the quantum for the sponsorship deal was not specified, the partnership with Yeo's and NTFCF will provide the teenager with support in areas such as his training, equipment and personal development.

Maximilian estimates that the annual cost of training and competing at his level can come up to about €250,000 (S$373,850).

Expressing his gratitude towards Yeo's, the NTFCF and the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), Maximilian said: "It provides a stable training environment, which really helps to elevate the quality of the time you put in and it gives you the options to try different things, innovate in techniques and give more thought into how you can improve.

"Mainly the load is taken off my parents - they have more time to focus on Wakatobi, a dive resort in Indonesia they help run, and other things. Also, it helps my team be able to not think about other things because in the end my coach can benefit from this - he can do this 100 per cent full time - along with our teammates as well. Now it really drives towards training."

On what got Yeo's interested in working with the SSF and Maximilian, the company's group chief executive Samuel Koh said: "Max embodies what Yeo's is all about - homegrown, but with global ambitions. He's passionate, hard working and resilient and he's going to be a great role model.

"It's (kitefoiling) a very exciting sport that is going to catch on in a big way with what we are trying to do together."

Daryl Ng, director of the NTFCF and Yeo's chairman, added: "We are delighted to work with Max in pursuing his dream of representing Singapore at the Olympics. Max is an amazing and committed athlete, who has inspired young people and lifted the nation's spirits with his drive, hard work and sportsmanship."

Following discussions with MCCY, the NTFCF will also donate $75,000 directly to the SSF over three years.

In turn, the Government will match the value of this donation, dollar-for-dollar, through the One Team Singapore Fund, which will see the SSF receive a total of $150,000.

This amount will go towards the development of the kitefoiling in Singapore, with the bulk on the federation's outreach and development programmes to grow the discipline here as well as some high performance aspects.

"It starts with learning and if you don't learn something, you can never start and you can't get to where Max is, so this is a process and this also helps us start the process," said SSF vice-president Jevan Tan, estimating that there are currently about 200 registered kiters in Singapore, 40 of whom are active.

"As we now emerge from this Covid-19 craziness, it's a great opportunity to do this."

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong lauded Yeo's and the NTFCF, saying: "All-round support for athletes is the best way to enhance our sporting ecosystem, supporting our athletes in their efforts to excel, do their best and win sporting glory for Singapore.

"The Government will continue to support our athletes and enhance Singapore's sport sector. I hope that more private organisations and individuals will be inspired by donors like Yeo's and the NTFCF to step forward, and work with the Government to support our national athletes to maximise their potential and achieve their sporting aspirations."

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