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Puma gets cosy with golf – not hockey

By Azera Rahman, IANS

New Delhi : Contrary to speculation that Puma may be the official sponsor of the Indian hockey team, courtesy the bright red Puma boxes exhibited in the film “Chak De! India”, the sports and lifestyle firm is actually cosying up to the elite sport golf.

Denying reports of Puma associating with hockey, Rajiv Mehta, managing director of Puma India, said the company was getting associated with golf in a whole lot of ways because it was a more popular sport internationally.

“Golf, as a game, is popular internationally unlike hockey. Hence we have associated with golf in different ways, from getting British Indian teenager Kiran Matharu as the brand ambassador to launching the golf collection a year and half back,” Mehta told IANS.

The latest in the Puma-golf association is the Puma Christel House Open (CHO) Golf Tournament, which is organised every year in 22 cities around the world to raise funds for underprivileged children by Christel House, an NGO.

“The CHO golf tournament is a charity which we are proud to be associated with. It’s been just over a year since we have come and set up our exclusive stores in India, so a chance such as this had not come before.

“Now that it has, we are sure to hold on to this,” Mehta said.

Talking about the CHO golf tournament, Raju Shahani, executive adviser of Christel House, said it was aimed at raising funds for a school in Bangalore that shelters more than 700 underprivileged children.

“The golf tournament, which is held in eight countries, sees participation by top honchos, CEOs of companies and businessmen, besides professional golfers.

“And considering the fact that the participation fee is Rs.22,000, you know that these are all serious people who really want to do something for a noble cause,” Shahani said.

In India, the tournament is held in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. It was held in New Delhi Sep 15.

“Since the tournament goes to 22 different cities, Puma as the sponsor will get a good exposure as well,” Mehta said.

Coming back to the belief that they are or will be sponsors of the Indian hockey team, Mehta said the speculation originated when the company decided to sponsor the games kit for the Indian women’s hockey team in the film “Chak De! India”.

“We sponsored the shoes and the sports gear which the girls in the movie wore for their final match in the movie. The movie has done phenomenally well; hence, though the rumour’s not true, we have got the extra publicity!”