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Stars forgo fees for worthy cause

The list of football personalities who have visited Singapore in the last three years reads almost like a who's who of the beautiful game. -TNP
Sazali Abdul Aziz

Sun, May 12, 2013
The New Paper

Jose Mourinho

SINGAPORE - Jose Mourinho, Luis Nani, Pepe, Peter Kenyon... The list of football personalities who have visited Singapore in the last three years reads almost like a who's who of the beautiful game.

They were all guests of Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim, who is also behind Spanish side Atletico Madrid's friendly match against a Singapore Selection here on May 22.

While the presence of the football stars certainly lends star power to the Peter Lim Scholarship - a $10 million project launched in 2010 to help talented young athletes from low-income families achieve their sporting dream - there is another reason behind the visits.

"A majority of these stars come from humble backgrounds," Andy Yun, head of the project to bring Atletico here, said on Thursday.

"Peter hopes he is able to create hope and inspire those youngsters from similar backgrounds.

"They have a chance to meet them and hopefully think: If he can do it, I can as well."

Little is known of the publicity-shy Lim, but in an interview with The New Paper in 2007, he revealed his humble beginnings.

His late father was a fishmonger and his mother a housewife, and he and his six siblings lived in a two-bedroom flat in Bukit Ho Swee.

After completing his secondary school education at Raffles Institution, he went to Perth to further his studies at the University of Western Australia.

Humble past

To fund his university education, he said, he worked part-time doing odd jobs as a taxi-driver, cook and waiter.

Much of his wealth - which is estimated at $1.6 billion - came from an investment he made in the '90s, in an Indonesian palm oil company called Wilmar.

But the Manchester United fan has not forgotten his roots, which is why he set up the Peter Lim Scholarship three years ago as a way to "give back" to the community.

There have been more than 460 recipients of the scholarship in the last two years.

Yun, who has worked for Lim for the last six years, quipped: "There are a lot of rich men in Singapore, but at least this one bothers about the young athletes."

He added that all the football personalities who have visited Singapore at Lim's invitation, agreed to come without any appearance fee whatsoever.

Even Atletico waived their 600,000 euros ($970,000) appearance fee, in support of Lim's philosophy of helping the less-privileged.

They will arrive in Singapore just three days after their Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid on May 17, and among the events lined up for them is a football clinic involving more than 120 young footballers from various neighbourhood schools.

Proceeds from the match will go to the Peter Lim Scholarship fund.


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