High-performance sports apparel brand Under Armour launched its first title-sponsored event in Singapore and Southeast Asia over the weekend when the American company lent its name to the 2014 Singapore Ultimate (frisbee) Open.
The international tournament, which started in 1999, saw participation from regional teams and was ultimately won by top local side Shiok! Singapore after two grueling days of competition at the Farrer Park field.
Ultimate frisbee might come as a surprising pick for a well-known brand like Under Armour to get behind, given the sport’s relatively low profile here. But Michael Binger, CEO of Triple Pte. Ltd., believes otherwise.
The retailer holds exclusive distribution rights for Under Armour across Southeast Asia, with the first outlets opening May in Singapore and the Philippines. With Under Armour seeking to further expand in the region, Binger says ultimate frisbee is a sport that fits their profile “quite nicely”.
“Ultimate Frisbee is a very engaging, very young sport; it’s an emerging sport, so it’s really right up our alley in those criteria,” he told Yahoo.
“We want to really also encourage sports at grassroots levels - it doesn’t have to be the sports that are necessarily in the media limelight - and really grow those sports with the association of Under Armour and really help them to increase their public and media profile.”
Binger added that while ultimate frisbee is also being supported by Under Armour in Philippines, they are open to doing so with other sports as well.
Understandably, Singapore's ultimate frisbee community welcome Under Armour’s involvement. Shiok! coach Clive Myint-Soe, whose team is sponsored by the brand, described the support as “huge” for the sport, while Enrique Lee, president of the Ultimate Players Association (Singapore) (UPA (S)), believes it will make more people take note of the sport.
“Frisbee right now is not so popular in Singapore… Having a brand like Under Armour come in pushes it up and propels us forward,” he said.
“Now, everyone knows and recognises that frisbee is actually up there amongst [sports like] basketball and soccer and something to be taken seriously.”
This year’s Under Armour Singapore Ultimate Open saw around 500 players from 17 teams representing six countries in action, while there was also a celebrity match between champions Shiok! Singapore and a team comprising Under Armour Athletes such as Allan Wu, True Fitness ambassadors Paul Foster, Jaymee Ong and UPA(S) members.