Table tennis: $300,000 and a surprise

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) was expecting to ink an extension of its sponsorship deal with Grace Shine worth $300,000 over three years on Friday.

One of Singapore's top national sports associations, the STTA already knew it would get an extra $100,000 after Grace Shine's owner, Dato Sri Dr Tahir, convinced his friend, realtor Cahyadi Kumala, to boost its coffers.

At the signing ceremony with Grace Shine on Friday, the STTA received a pleasant surprise - to the tune of an extra $100,000.

Indonesian businessman, Radius Wibowo, another friend of Dr Tahir, agreed to donate the sum to the STTA.

Said STTA president Lee Bee Wah: "I'm very happy that (Dr Tahir), without hesitation, agreed to sign on for three years because we are not fully-funded and needed more sponsors to come on board (when we met recently).

"He did ask me if it was enough and I told him that I needed more help, so he said he will try to persuade his business associates.

"Soon after that meeting, Mr Kumala keyed in money into our account and this morning, Dr Tahir gave me another pleasant surprise by asking Mr Radius to come in with another $100,000."

Last November, Grace Shine pledged $100,000 to STTA in exchange for having their company logo emblazoned on the national jersey for a year.

The new deal will see Grace Shine's logo agreement extended till 2016.

With the Asian Youth Games and the Youth Olympic Games on the horizon, the money will go towards defraying the cost of STTA's youth programmes and sending national paddlers overseas for competitions.

According to Lee, the STTA had expected to incur a $600,000 deficit this financial year before the sponsorship deal and donations. Honorary president

Dr Tahir, who stepped down as president of the table tennis association in his native Indonesia, also accepted an invitation from Lee to become STTA's honorary president.

The role will see the 61-year-old chair STTA's fund-raising committee.

"It is a great honour and, to be honest, I was surprised because I didn't expect that. Despite being Indonesian, I think sport is not limited by country. Any good prospect you see in any field, not just table tennis, deserves to be supported and taken care of," said Dr Tahir.

"That's my philosophy. You can do good work any time, anywhere. I look for commitment more than the performance and the Singapore Government and (Lee) are committed to the sport."

The cash injection comes after 2010 Youth Olympic Games silver medallist Isabelle Li received one of the largest individual contributions in local sport with a $100,000 donation from TEE International last month.

While the search continues for more funds, Lee and STTA will be hoping to find more generous donors like Kumala and Wibowo.

Wibowo, who is the sole agent for Casio in Indonesia and owns the Goodway Group of hotels, said: "Dr Tahir just called me to come here this morning and asked me to donate some money.

"I said okay, but I'm really a bit disappointed because I cannot donate more than that for the time being.

"Hopefully, next time I can donate more."

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