KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has its eye on the sports tourism industry as the state aims to become an ideal destination for family-oriented sporting events.
An example of this commitment is the ongoing 2023 Malaysia Borneo Football Cup, which has attracted the participation of 30 junior teams from Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Peninsular Malaysia, alongside 20 Sabahan teams.
In his speech at a welcome dinner for tournament participants and their families on Wednesday (Sept 27), Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said the tournament had become a cherished tradition since 2008.
"We couldn't be more thrilled to see it back on the annual calendar now that the challenges of Covid-19 are behind us.
“Looking back, we've had the honour of hosting teams from Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan in previous years, and we eagerly anticipate their return,” said Bangkuai, who is also state Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister.
Also present were Borneo Cup tournament director Scott Ollerenshaw, Sabah FC chief executive officer Marzuki Nasir and Australian football personalities Andrew Paschalidis and Alan Davidson.
Bangkuai also extended STB's support for Ollerenshaw's announcement of a junior tournament for girls.
He said this development underlined Sabah's dedication to attracting a broader audience in sports and adding to the richness of its tourism portfolio.
“It aligns perfectly with our vision of promoting sports tourism and attracting families seeking a unique blend of sports education and leisure,” he added.
Bangkuai said such tournaments were platforms to discover talents and foster sportsmanship while giving participants the chance to experience Sabah's diverse culture and natural beauty.