News • February 3, 2016

Garena Affirms Commitment In Singapore Football With Young Lions Sponsorship


Written by: Shawn Lim

As a company with an average age of 26 years old, Garena is a firm believer in youth development and allowing young employees to take on important tasks.

Youth, is also the reason why the internet and mobile platform company chose to invest in the Young Lions, the Singapore Under-21 development side for the next two years, in a deal worth up to $4 million.

The deal will see Garena provide $2 million in cash sponsorship to the Young Lions and a programme budget of up to $2 million for the promotion and development of the team in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League.

The team will also be known as the Garena Young Lions and will wear shirts bearing the Shopee brand, which is Garena’s social-first, mobile-centric, C2C marketplace.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the press conference to announce the sponsorship, Forrest Li, founder and group chief executive officer of Garena, said: “If you look at our customer base, a lot of them are young people, so they are very energetic and sports is a big part of their life.

“We love to support young talent and the Young Lions are the future of Singapore football, so that is in line with our beliefs as a young company and we have a lot of young people here at Garena.

“The average age of our employees is about 26-27 years old and we are a big fan of young people.”

Li was keen to stress that the company is more interested in helping the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) develop the next generation of footballers, rather than focusing on the return of investment.

The 37-year-old also expressed his desire to help improve the S.League because of his love for football.

“We need to start somewhere to help to boost up domestic football, get people come back to the stadiums to watch the league and to cheer on the local players,” explained Li.

“So we are not really looking at the ROI, in a way, this is a way of giving back to the society that we belong to.

“Two years is a pretty long time and we can get a lot of things done. We don’t want to set any KPIs like saying they have to win the league, because we care more about their development.

“After the two years, when we see them grow up as professional players and their progress, we will feel that the dollar we put in is good money.

“We are in this for the long term and the two years partnership is just a starting point.”

Li hopes that the record sponsorship deal with the Young Lions will encourage more corporations to come forward and be involved in local football.

“This deal is a starting point, so as a company we needed to take the first step and show other companies that Garena is willing to invest and give them the confidence to say ‘ok, this is something interesting that we can do as well’, “ said Li.

“If we put effort together to build up the ecosystem, at the end of the day I think everybody will be better off and we have a wonderful football community in Singapore.”

Agreeing with Li’s sentiments was FAS president Zainudin Nordin, who also feels that the deal will be a welcome relief for the organisation.

“Resources have always been a key constraint faced by the FAS. This record deal represents a great vote of confidence for our programmes, and for that we would like to thank Garena,” said Zainudin.

“The money will be spent wisely on the development of our most promising young talents, and to build the next generation of National Team players.

“We truly hope more corporate partners will come on board to support us and support Singapore football, to ensure that the future of our local football scene burns ever brighter.”