News Singapore Premier League • September 9, 2015

Bandai Bringing More Fun Into S.League


Written by: Nigel Chin

Bandai Namco Singapore is hoping to give the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League a boost by bringing special events on match days.

Following the success of last year’s Pokemon Day, the Japanese toy making company has partnered Albirex Niigata (S) for this year’s ‘Game Day’.

When Albirex play against Tampines Rovers on Thursday at the Jalan Besar Stadium, a special guest will be brought in by both Albirex and Bandai – Jibanyan, a popular character on the show ‘Yo-Kai Watch’.

Yo-Kai Watch is the latest hit from Japan, and has already outdone Pokemon in some ways, which is why Bandai is bringing the show to Albirex’s ‘Game Day’, according to sales manager Hiroki Tamiya.

“Pokemon is already the evergreen character, not only for Japanese but Singapore also because it’s over 20 years and everyone knows Pokemon now,” Tamiya said. “But Yo-Kai Watch in Japan had a bigger success than Pokemon did 20 years ago last year.”

Having witnessed the crowd Albirex pulled in with Pokemon day, Tamiya had no qualms about jumping in to partner with the Japanese club.

“We are a Japanese company of course, and we heard they did the Pokemon Day event last year and I heard it was a big success – it drew a big crowd,” Tamiya said.

“I heard they were looking for something different for a similar event, so we decided to work with Albirex.

“We feel it’s a great way to promote it to the local people also. Albirex Niigata (S) is a Japanese-players-only team, they compete in Singapore, a international league. Yo-Kai Watch has succeeded and is huge in Japan – we want the success to grow.

“It originated from Japan and we want it to compete abroad so it’s a perfect match I believe.”

Through organising the Yo-Kai Watch day, Tamiya hopes to attract kids to the game and also help cultivate their interest in football and the S.League.

“I’ve watch several Albirex games at the stadium and on TV, and I’ve noticed at S.League games there isn’t much people,” Tamiya explained. “So we need to make it bigger and Bandai can help by working together.

“It will be great for the S.League to have events like this, especially since we are toy company, so it can make kids happier together as a sports fan. Hopefully, we can have more events like this to excite customers and S.League.

“I believe there are many kids who don’t play soccer will come to the stadium for the events. They are curious. They like animations, toys and when they watch the game as well, I hope they will be excited with both the soccer match and the character show.”

In fact, both Bandai and Albirex are already exploring possibilities of making the ‘Game Day’ event an annual collaboration, although nothing has been finalised yet.

“I hope we can make this a yearly event,” Tamiya expressed. “We are a character merchandising company, and we have global licensing for One Piece, Ultraman, Mask Riders, Power Rangers and Gundam to name a few.

“If they (Albirex) are happy, we can certainly do more actions. This year, Yo-Kai watch is the biggest thing to kick off. We hope we can entertain both team’s fans and help the S.League become more exciting.

“Of course, we are looking for opportunities to work with local clubs too. First of all it’s soccer – it’s a global sport which is the most successful. There should be no borders, no restrictions. I’m Japanese, so of course we support Albirex Niigata (S) first.

“But if we are able to work with one of the local clubs in Singapore, why not?”