Monday, December 17, 2007
Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
Souvenirs have always been very much a part of sporting events and going back home without one would be such a miss.
Thailand, as the host, went all out to provide a wide range of souvenirs for the 24th Southeast Asian Games, which concluded Saturday evening.
Thai Factory Sporting Goods, Ltd. (FBT)'s deputy managing director, Monchai Chokephaibulkit, said he had instructed his employees to sell the remaining 600 souvenirs over the last two days of the Games.
Sports fans, athletes, local and foreign journalists, volunteers, the home supporters and even police officers rushed to buy FBT products at His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Stadium on Saturday.
FBT is one of the official sponsors of the Games, and has been supporting Thai athletes and domestic and international sporting events in the country by providing sports equipment and apparel for about 40 years.
At the Games, FBT also provided the uniforms for about 40,000 organizing staff members, including referees, stadium staff and volunteers, at an estimated cost of 25 million baht (US$750,750).
"Our main goal in sponsoring the Games was to make them successful. We gave discounts so that people would have the chance to shop and be part of the Games," Chokephaibulkit said.
"Our sponsorship here is worth 24 million baht. As a result of our sponsorship, people are happy with the brand, which means we have another group of loyal costumers."
SEA Games merchandise was available at six other outlets in Khorat (the familiar name for Nakhon Ratchasima), three outlets in the capital Bangkok, and two more in Chon Buri province.
Fans could purchase the SEA Games mascot, Nong Can -- a gray Siamese cat with a radiant smile -- in many cute postures. The rights to SEA Games souvenirs, including the mascot dolls that were given to SEA Games medalists, are owned by a company named TRT.
"We won the rights to the souvenirs for the International Horticultural Exposition in Chiang Mai late last year. We have once again been entrusted with the rights for these SEA Games, and we hope we will get the rights to the souvenirs for the next SEA Games in Laos as well," said TRT owner Phaphan Phangla-or.
The mascot for the 2009 SEA Games in Laos is expected to be a Laotian elephant.
Phaphan said his firm started out as a small family business, and that his success was due to his long-standing involvement in sports.