12 April 2014
Singapore, 12 April 2014 – In a move that is possibly a world’s first, a sponsor gave up its jersey rights to a fan. StarHub, the official sponsor of Singapore’s LionsXII football team, shifted the limelight onto die-hard LionsXII fan, Akbar Hashim, whose name replaced StarHub’s logo on the official team jersey.
StarHub took this extraordinary step of honouring Akbar at the LionsXII vs Sime Darby FC match this evening, because of his passionate commitment to LionsXII. In fact, the LionsXII is named as a tribute to the 12th Man—the loyal fans who cheer the team on at each and every match. In sports, the concept of the 12th Man is widely seen as a psychological advantage for a team on the field.
"StarHub is a fan of local sporting talent and has been a committed supporter of the LionsXII since Day One," enthused Ms Jeannie Ong, Chief Marketing Officer, StarHub. "However, some fans' passion for Singaporean football goes back decades! These loyal supporters are truly the proverbial 12th Man of the LionsXII.
"Like us, these fans invest their time, effort, money and emotion in the LionsXII. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, so we want to wear their names on our jerseys. Akbar is one hard-core fan who has truly gone the distance for the LionsXII. Passing StarHub’s jersey space to Akbar—LionsXII’s ultimate fan for today's match—is our salute to the fans, without whom football is nothing."
"StarHub would like to call on more fans," added Ms Ong, "to step forward and be counted as the 12th man. Together, let us inspire and cheer our LionsXII on!"
Ms Ong was speaking just before the LionsXII vs Sime Darby FC match on 12 April 2014 at Jalan Besar Stadium. Minutes before the start of the match, the LionsXII came onto the pitch with a specially-commissioned jersey bearing Akbar’s name. The surprised and emotional Akbar was then presented with a commemorative jersey signed by all the players, as well as LionsXII coach and legendary local football star, Fandi Ahmad.
Mr Lim Kia Tong, FAS Vice-President, echoed Ms Ong’s views: “The name of our team LionsXII is a tribute to the fans, the “XII” in “LionsXII” refers to the proverbial “twelfth man” of the team – our die-hard fans. Our fans have always played a vital role for our team: they make the effort to attend our matches and through their support, the players are given that extra boost and motivation to perform and give their best to win. The continued support of our fans will surely inspire our team to even greater heights”
53 year-old Akbar has been an avid supporter of Singapore football for over 40 years. He is also well known in football circles as “the most die-hard of LionsXII fans”. Akbar attends every game, home or away, and has not missed a match in years. Many of the LionsXII players and coaching staff are very familiar with Akbar, as he also helps to arrange for fans to attend away games.
Over the next three months, StarHub will be on the search for three more diehard LionsXII fans and will be rewarding them with “money can’t buy” experiences. These experiences include the chance to travel together with the LionsXII to an away game; the chance to join the team in a pre-match warm up; leading the players onto the pitch for kick-off; and to break fast with a meal prepared by the LionsXII mums during Ramadan.
About StarHub’s Sponsorship
StarHub has been the principal sponsor and official broadcaster of the LionsXII since January 2012. While it is a big supporter of sports in general and football in particular, StarHub is committed to nurturing local football talents. For more information, please visit www.starhub.com/lionsxii