We spoke to Mike Lamb and Paul Freer, two key people behind the annual KL Tigers International Rugby tournament on how events such as these could help boost connections within the community.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a big part of our mission here at Suria Labs to create a better environment, not just in our own workplace, but within the community that we live in. Besides helping to build a good relationship, CSR is also crucial in helping to strengthen the company’s brand image and to showcase our values.
The KL Tigers International Rugby tournament is more than just a sports day out for kids and parents, it’s a place where children are taught new disciplines and a place to instil good values and nurture bonds within a community and that’s why Suria Labs is proud to play a role as a sponsor at this year’s event. Mike and Paul explain how the event is a great CSR opportunity for the brands involved.
Could you tell us a bit about the event?
Paul: The event is in its fourth year, it’s an international children’s, juniors rugby tournament for age groups under 6’s to under 18’s and there is also a girl’s touch rugby event.
We’ve got teams this year coming in from Hong Kong of about 250 people. We’ve got a lot of teams as usual from Singapore and a few teams from Thailand which adds a bit of an international flavour to the event. Tourism Malaysia are very happy that we’re bringing in these people.
There are about 146 number of teams that represents about 2,000 players. We’re expecting about 6,000 to 7,000 spectators, players and visitors over the weekend so there’s lots of food and beverage going on around here. There’s also other things for children such as bouncy castles and some entertainment for children.
There seems to be a lot of support coming in this year.
Mike: I think it’s fair to say that for the sponsorship side of the tournament, we’re indebted to all the support we get, whether it’s in cash or in kind to make something like this possible.
If we don’t have the backing of the commercial world, we can’t make it happen and thankfully for four years now, we’ve been quite successful in raising enough revenue whether it’s in goods or in kind or in cash and we’re in a very comfortable position to know we can keep holding it year after year.
What are the main goals of organising this event?
Mike: We’re not really looking to make profit from the event. We’re all actually rugby enthusiasts, so we’re looking to actually grow the game of rugby in Asia. We don’t look at the tournament and think, ‘we made this much profit,’ we look at the tournament and say we brought in 200 teams from seven different countries. As a tournament, it’s growing in reputation and stature and to us that makes for a more successful tournament, so that’s what we are achieving year on year from the very first tournament.
If we add more teams from more participating countries, then the standard of rugby goes up, for us, those are all wins. Because KL Tigers are trying essentially to ingrain rugby into the DNA of Malaysia and we are seeing the results. Of course, we’re not the only club in Malaysia, there are several very active groups here promoting junior rugby, because it all starts with junior rugby. Our kids have been playing since under five year old and they are in our club today and this is actually their 13th year of playing for KL Tigers. This is a fantastic story.
Paul: We’re also a global partner club with Leicester in the UK. So the Tigers name is common to both of us and it’s very appropriate for us being in Malaysia.
How did Suria Labs get involved?
Mike: It’s basically through personal connections. As for me, that’s part of rugby. A lot of people talk about business being done on the golf course but we like to say that it’s also done on the rugby field. It’s a great environment, you learn to trust each other, you learn to rely on each other and those friendships, when they’re made, they are for life.
Of course when you do business, you like to do business with people you trust. I think when people see what we’re doing with KL Tigers, they know it’s absolutely for the right thing. We’re helping kids grow in self-esteem, helping them learn the school of hard knocks and all these kind of stuff. We’re turning young boys and young girls into young men and young women who are equipped for life and I think people generally like to support that.
How does a brand such as Suria Labs help the community in terms of CSR by getting involved with the event?
Mike: I think it’s purely in the participation. If you can see that we’ve touched 2,000 children’s lives and then obviously, it’s also the family that’s associated with those 2,000 kids. But of those 2,000 kids here today, they would have been selected from 5,000 kids and then you look at how many kids are playing rugby in Malaysia, that is corporate social responsibility.
We are doing some seriously good stuff for the community. There is beautiful discipline within the game. When you’re out there competing against each other, very physically at times, but at the end of the day, you shake hands, embrace each other and go and socialise.