By Bhas Kunju
Chief Editor, Goal.com Singapore
THORB, the apparel sponsors of Tanjong Pagar United have added a new dimension to supporters outreach in the local football scene.
While in discussion with the Jaguars over renewing their sponsorship for the next S.league season, the two parties struck up the idea of a new jersey design competition that would involve supporters.
"During our first season (2010) with the club, we trawled the web and forums to try and keep ourselves in touch with the ground to hear what the fans wanted and were saying," said Kristian Thorbjornsen, Managing Director of THORB.
"We noticed that older/past fans of TPUFC were unhappy that we didn't keep to the original Red/White stripes design that had been acquainted with the club for the longest time. So in 2011, we had time to sort that out and bring back the famed red/white stripes.
"It would be a good way for THORB and TPUFC to show fans that we're here and listening to what they want. Afterall, the fans are the most important people in the club."
Thorbjornsen emphasised that the competition was always designed to include fans and give them a more active role and stake in the club.
"The inclusion of fans was always in both the club's and THORB's mind," he added.
"These are the people that we need to take care of the most. These are the people we need to listen and respond to, because without them, the club and THORB would be nothing.
"For the longest time, everyone has been talking about engaging fans but what really has been done differently?
Hosted on the club's official Facebook page, the competition has received good response from supporters with the organisers spoilt for choice.
"The response has been fantastic!" Thorbjornsen told Goal.com Singapore.
"We've had about 45 designs come in and some of them are really good. We had a hard time narrowing it down to the last 10!
Although relatively new to the scene, Thorbjonsen has declared his ambitions for the brand to grow and become the flagship sports brand in Singapore.
With the competition now down to the voting stages for the winning design, Thorbjornsen revealed that there were definitely more such plans in the works : "Whatever programs TPUFC has, we've always done our best to support. We do share ideas and whenever feasible, we execute such plans together."
"Fan engagement is crucial to the S.League and more needs to be done, so we will definitely be exploring other such initiatives!"