The New York Cosmos Asia Tour 2011 Recap
On March 2nd, Pelé, Eric Cantona and Cobi Jones landed in Singapore – marking the official kick-off of the week-long 2011 New York Cosmos Asia Tour – which includes Singapore and Hong Kong. While The New York Cosmos played in Singapore and Hong Kong back in 1979, this tour was the club’s first trip to Asia since its rebirth seven months ago. This trip also represented the very first time that all three have come together as New York Cosmos ambassadors. During this trip, Pelé, Cantona and Jones were dedicated to spreading goodwill through sport, encouraging young talent and building global partnerships. In Singapore, local fans and media would end up dubbing this visit “Legends in the Lion City”. Read about each stop as The Cosmos ambassadors made their way through Asia:
Thursday, March 3rd
In conjunction with the U.S.-Asia Pacific Regional Business Summit hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore – The New York Cosmos were guests of honor at their opening breakfast where nearly 400 executives representing U.S. businesses across all of Asia came together to hear “What’s Next in the Soccer World” from Paul Kemsley, Pelé, Cantona and Jones. Collectively, they talked about their vision for The New York Cosmos while also discussing the future of soccer and the important role that it plays to bridge communities.
Later that afternoon, The New York Cosmos headed to Jalan Basar Stadium for a press conference, hosted by Courts – the official partner of the 2011 New York Cosmos Asia Tour (and Singapore’s largest electrical, IT and furniture retailer). Afterwards, Pelé, Cantona and Jones watched the Courts Young Lions play Geyland United in front of a packed house of 3,000 fans. At halftime, they took the pitch to do a fan photo with ten lucky winners who won a once-in-a-lifetime meet and greet with the legends. At the end of the match, where the Courts Young Lions won 3-2, Eric chose Shahfiq Ghani (#27) to be the man of the match and presented him with a signed New York Cosmos home jersey.
Friday, March 4th
The New York Cosmos paid a visit to the Singapore Sports School to visit with aspiring young athletes and to do a ribbon cutting of their brand new soccer pitch. Opened in 2004, Singapore Sports School is the only school in Singapore that offers students a chance to have both academic pursuits as well as receive intensive sports training. With a motto of “Learned Champions Through Character” – Singapore Sports School students gathered in the auditorium to hear Pelé, Cantona and Jones share words of wisdom and encouraging them all to be prepared for sport but also for life – and the important decisions one needs to make to succeed.
That evening, a black-tie gala event featuring Singapore President S.R. Nathan took place to help raise money for the Bone Marrow Donor Program. At The New York Cosmos’ star-studded table, over $75,000 was raised by Chairman Paul Kemsley who put up an auction prize for guests to have a exclusive “breakfast with the legends” this summer during its 40th Anniversary Celebration Match in NYC.
Saturday, March 5th
Pelé and Cantona did an autograph session with hundreds of fans at Courts Megastore – which was being broadcast live by Radio 938. Here, fans had a chance to enter to win an all-expenses paid trip to New York this summer for the New York Cosmos 40th Anniversary Celebration Match.
Sunday, March 6th
A Weston store appearance by Pelé, Cantona and Jones marked the end of the Singapore leg of the tour. Weston was the the exclusive retailer of the New York Cosmos jersey by Umbro. Approximately 50 ‘golden ticket’ VIP customers were invited to come down to meet the legends and get autographs. That evening, Cantona and Jones would return back to the U.S. while Pelé continued onto Hong Kong. This visit will be one memory etched deeply in the minds and hearts of many Singaporeans who had the opportunity to meet their football heroes. The New York Cosmos will continue to explore opportunities to come back to Singapore in the very near future.
Monday, March 7th
In Hong Kong, Pelé walked along the “Avenue of the Stars” along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and posed for an iconic photo against a backdrop of the city’s skyscrapers across the Victoria Harbor. At a press conference that afternoon at the Peninsula Hotel, over 60 reporters gathered to hear Pelé talk about completing his mission with The New York Cosmos. “I was a champion with Santos, then with the Brazil National Team, then with The New York Cosmos, and that was it, I was not supposed to come back!” says the legend. “But my mission is to make soccer even bigger in the United States through The New York Cosmos. Paul [Kemsley] has convinced me to come back and that is the reason I’m here again.” He also shared some great memories of Hong Kong and continues, “I want to thank the people here in Hong Kong for making me so welcome. I was here a very long time ago with Santos and then I visited here again with The New York Cosmos. I was so emotional yesterday when I arrived at the airport. I saw a lot of kids waiting, they were eight or nine years old and they were shouting hello to me, unbelievable! I have made three generations of friends here, which is something I never think can happen.”
Tuesday, March 8th
The day began with a VIP luncheon hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, featuring approximately 200 business leaders and dignitaries who got to listen to Pelé speak about his time as a soccer player, as a role model and now as an executive with The New York Cosmos. He also took questions from a few kids who got a ‘hall pass’ from school that day to attend the luncheon with their parents – and reinforced the importance of sports on education and philanthropy. Despite his extremely busy schedule during this tour, Pelé still enjoys globe-trotting and meeting new people. “Soccer has given me this opportunity to travel and to make friends all over the world,” he said. “I’m lucky in that no matter where I go, I always seem to have a job!”.
That afternoon, Pelé stopped by the Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC) to oversee a few practices and was surrounded by hundreds of enthusiastic youngsters and grown-ups excited to be in the presence of this legend. In addition to the HKFC U12s – the practices also featured local kids from the San Wui Commercial Society School as well as special needs kids called the HKFC Crusaders in partnership with the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association’s Dragon.
As a final farewell to Hong Kong, Pelé and The New York Cosmos staff finally came together for a quiet dinner at David Tang’s chic China Club – to reflect on the past week and to prepare for the busy months to come. Undoubtedly, the tour drummed up tremendous interest among a new generation of fans – while also bringing forth friendships and partnerships that would incorporate Asia into what The New York Cosmos intends to do moving forward.
The Official Partner of The 2011 New York Cosmos Asia Tour: