Book looks to help S’pore athletes secure sponsors

Book looks to help S’pore athletes secure sponsors
Vickie Saunders, the author of "Sponsorhip For Athletes". Photo: Damien Teo
Australian expert believes there are many untapped sponsorship openings here
Published: 4:05 AM, April 28, 2016
Updated: 5:38 AM, April 28, 2016

SINGAPORE — While securing sponsorships and endorsement deals can go a long way in helping an athlete to succeed in his or her sport, it is still an area that many Singapore athletes struggle with.

That is why the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI), along with the National Youth Sports Institute (NYSI) and Deloitte Singapore, yesterday launched a book to educate local athletes on ways to successfully source for sponsorships.

Written by Australian athlete sponsorship expert Vickie Saunders (picture), Sponsorship for Athletes — adapted from an earlier edition and customised to suit the local sporting scene — details how Singapore athletes can secure valuable and sustainable endorsement deals.

Some 400 copies have already been printed, with Deloitte footing the cost of its production. SSI and NYSI will distribute the books to Singapore’s high-performance and youth athletes in the coming weeks.

Having spent over four months studying the sports sponsorship scene in Singapore, Saunders believes there are still many untapped openings for local athletes to find a sponsor.

“The unique thing is that everyone is in a small, yet culturally rich and financially successful country,” said Saunders. “So this means there’s an abundance of opportunities for both the athletes and the sponsors to connect.

“But one of the greatest challenges athletes face here is the (lack of) awareness that they are competing at an incredibly high level and doing amazing things. They’ve got so much value to share, with their community, with their sponsors and with Singapore in general.

“Sponsorships can create valuable connections and opportunities for not only the athletes, but the businesses as well, and now it’s really about the education on how to get that right.”

Agreeing, veteran kegler Remy Ong, 37, said a mistake local athletes often make when sourcing endorsement deals is their failure to develop a relationship with the sponsors.

“The way athletes approach companies for sponsorship can be refined, because they usually approach a company to sponsor them in the short term,” explained Ong, who also runs Sponzer Asia, a company specialising in digital marketing for brands and athletes. “But a sustainable sponsorship is all about relationship building. You have to become part of their family, the icon of their company, and someone who will help profile their product.”

National sprinter Calvin Kang, who has seven sponsors — including 100Plus and Adidas — added that athletes will also need to make a conscious effort to be “visible to the public” to entice companies to back them.

“The main thing is for us to get our presence out there,” said Kang, 26. “So perhaps join community events, go for media launches and shoots. This will at least show that my interest is not in just my own sport, but also with other things that might not be related to sport.

“For athletes to have sponsors, they first need fans, and to do that, they have to get their face out there. Once you have that, it becomes easier to engage different parties, because people will affiliate the brand to them.”

At yesterday’s event, it was also announced that SIM Global Education and the University of Stirling will jointly offer local athletes two bond-free scholarships for Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degrees in sports studies and marketing.

“This scholarship is in addition to other scholarships that SIM Global Education has been offering to students with exemplary academic results or achievements in arts and sports,” said Ho Soon Eng, director for higher education at SIM Global Education.

“Investing in scholarships is in line with SIM’s social mission and holistic education philosophy. Local athletes will be able to train and compete and, at the same time, pursue their degree aspirations by taking advantage of the flexible and modular nature of the Stirling programme offered locally through us.”