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Major cash sponsorship allows Flash to dream of lifting S’pore athletics

SINGAPORE – Once a powerhouse in the local athletics scene in the 1970s and 80s, Flash Athletic Club saw their star fading in the last decade as a period of dormancy led eventually led to them being excluded from Singapore Athletics’ (SA) affiliate list.

Major cash sponsorship allows Flash to dream of lifting S’pore athletics

Flash president Edmond Pereira (with microphone) says he hopes the cross-country Grand Prix will attract the region's best runners, and help raise the standards of local athletes. Photo: Flash Athletic Club

SINGAPORE – Once a powerhouse in the local athletics scene in the 1970s and 80s, Flash Athletic Club saw their star fading in the last decade as a period of dormancy led eventually led to them being excluded from Singapore Athletics’ (SA) affiliate list.

But the club, which was credited with producing track stars such as sprinters UK Shyam, Chee Swee Lee and Haron Mundir, have been given a huge boost in their quest for revival after they received a S$300,000 cash sponsorship from SAFRAG Venture Capital Pte Ltd.

News of the sponsorship was announced during a press conference at Park Hotel Clarke Quay on Friday (May 19), where Flash president Edmond Pereira officially launched the club’s cross-country Grand Prix race.

Around S$100,000 from SAFRAG’s sponsorship money, including a prize purse of S$50,000, is expected to go towards organising the event, which aims to attract at least 1,000 participants.

The Grand Prix will be competed over three legs – starting from July 1 and ending on Oct 21 – with runners taking on progressive distances of 5km, 7km and 12km.

The remainder of the sponsorship money will go into developing programmes for Flash’s athletes, the club’s scholarship fund, as well as organising events such as the Flash Open Relay, which is expected to be held sometime in October.

Said Pereira: “We are extremely fortunate to have a sponsor (like SAFRAG) agreeing to come down to support this event and our club. The amount they have pledged is testament to their faith in the ability of (our) club to successfully organise the Grand Prix race.

“As a start-up company, they were looking to help in the development of local sports and we managed to convince them that athletics is the sport that they should come in to support.

“We hope this (Grand Prix) will attract the best runners from around the region…this will help push our local athletes to train harder and compete at a higher level.

“Over the longer run, this may have a positive effect on the standards of distance running in Singapore.”

The sponsorship boost for Flash is a marked contrast from the recent financial woes that have beset SA. The national governing body for athletics had its funding from last July, totalling about S$500,000, withheld by Sport Singapore (SportSG) after failing to submit its progress report.

SA has also been plagued with infighting within their executive committee (exco). This led to an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) being called to elect a new management committee (MC), which was eventually canned on the eve of the meeting after the warring parties within the exco resolved to attempt to work through their differences.

Pereira, who unsuccessfully ran for the post of SA president last year, admitted that the recent negativity surrounding SA had affected them in their search for sponsors.

“There has recently been a lot of distractions in the sport…we all know what the state of the sport is like here, and that made it hard for us when we were looking for sponsors,” explained the lawyer.

“When most potential sponsors hear the word ‘athletics’, they immediately refuse because they’re aware of what’s been happening (in the local athletics scene).

“But I tell them that if they don’t give us a chance, then they will never be able to see the kind of huge potential that the sport – which is, in my opinion, the most exciting in the Olympics – and our club has.”

Pereira added that he hoped to use Flash’s newfound financial might to inject some much-needed buzz into the floundering local athletics scene.

“We need to bring the attention back onto the athletes and the races,” said Pereira.

“They are the stars of the show, not officials like us who should be behind the scenes supporting them.

“The athletics scene in Singapore is in dire need of some excitement after all the negativity.

“We will make a push to promote Flash to be the premier track and field club in Singapore. As such, we have many more exciting events planned next year during our 50th anniversary, and our hope is to revive the sport here and raise the standards of athletics in Singapore in our own way.”

When asked if he would contest the SA elections again next year however, Pereira just smiled and said: “No, I don’t want to get involved in that anymore.

“My focus now is simply on Flash and to help local athletics as much as possible through the club.”

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