LUXURY property developer SC Global Developments has been named as the presenting sponsor of the upcoming BNP Paribas Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Championships in Singapore.
The local company, which was delisted from Singapore Exchange last year, will be on board throughout the five years that the event will be held at the new $1.3 billion Singapore Sports Hub in Kallang starting this October.
When pressed by reporters during a press conference yesterday, chairman and CEO Simon Cheong declined to reveal the cost of the sponsorship deal.
"The quantity is not important. What's important is that we play our part in supporting sports and corporate social responsibility. This is our way of giving back," he said.
The season-ending WTA tournament, which is being held in Asia for the first time in its 44-year history, has a record US$6.5 million in prize money up for grabs.
The exact line-up of players will only be firmed up closer to the event as they are now busy racking up enough ranking points in order to qualify. Only the top eight singles players and doubles teams will make the cut.
"It's not easy to get a world-class event in Singapore that is tried and tested. When we were looking for an event to support, the WTA Championships fit the bill," said Mr Cheong, an avid tennis player himself.
"All of the players are celebrities and global names, and the whole region and the world will be watching what happens in Singapore," he said.
Aside from the 10-day event - set to take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from from Oct 17 to 26 - itself, SC Global plans to spend up to $300,000 on a new community initiative to make the sport accessible to all primary schools.
Mr Cheong revealed that talks were under way with the Singapore Tennis Association and the Ministry of Education to bring the "SC Global Tennis for Every Child" programme to the schools later this year.
"We want to bring tennis to physical education lessons and co-curricular activity programmes. It's not a short-term initiative but will be done over five years. We would like to encourage more children to go out and play sports," said Mr Cheong.
With the first local sponsor in the bag, the World Sport Group, which is the promoter of the WTA Championships, is looking forward to introducing more sponsors in the coming weeks, with a good mix of home-grown and international firms both big and small.
Second Trade and Industry Minister S Iswaran described the WTA Championships as a "very important addition" to the local events calendar, one that would appeal to Singaporeans and tourists alike.
"It's also a good platform for our businesses to be involved as sponsors, or leverage on the event in order to bring in their regional or even international partners to come and be part of the event, and in the process do their business networking and so on," he said.
"This is something we have seen in the context of the Formula 1 (night race in Singapore), and the WTA Championships will give us a different perspective. It will appeal to a different segment of the population in Singapore and the region," said Mr Iswaran.