Published November 28, 2006

Eighth Wonder's bid gets extra kick from Pele

Legend lends name to sports stadium, academy & hotel


SOCCER legend Pele was in town yesterday to give an extra kick to Eighth Wonder's bid to build its planned Harry's Island resort on Sentosa. A sports stadium and football academy at the resort would wear the former Brazilian star's name.

Star treatment: Pele visiting the Singapore Sports School yesterday where it was announced that a Pele stadium, academy and hotel will be built on Harry's Island

'I am committed to being active in Singapore's sporting life and want to share my experiences with the youth here and the region,' said Pele, who was named Footballer of the 20th Century by Fifa in 2000.

At a news briefing he attended yesterday at the Singapore Sports School in Woodlands, it was revealed that a 5,000-seat Pele Stadium, Pele Sports Academy and a 120-room football-themed hotel called Gol! at Harry's Island would cost a total of $225 million.

The academy would run daily sessions for children, with coaches selected by Pele. And the man himself would visit two or three times a year to keep things on the ball. The Pele Stadium would have a Fifa-sanctioned full-sized Astroturf pitch that could handle many sports, like football, rugby and tennis, as well as entertainment events.

The Gol! hotel will be designed by Bernard Ford-Brescia of Arquitectonica. Each room would have a sports-box style view to the football field.

The Pele Stadium would be the venue for officially sanctioned events and exclusive exhibition matches. It would be open to the public, but also available for private or corporate events. Eighth Wonder chairman Mark Advent said that if it wins, Pele will become Harry's Island's 'ambassador for goodwill, sportsmanship and the pursuit of excellence'. And the Pele Stadium will 'showcase Singapore as a premier destination for world-class sports and entertainment'.

Pele - real name Edson Arantes do Nascimento - got his world-famous nickname from mispronouncing the name of his favourite Vasco Da Gama team's goalkeeper, Bile (sounds like bee-lay) when he was a boy. Pele, who says he does not like this nickname, was originally nicknamed Dico by his family.