Local company official merchandiser for World Rugby Sevens Series

|     Danial Norjidi     |

A COMPANY from Brunei, Headhunter Sport, has been appointed the official merchandiser for the Singapore leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament for the next two years, as well as the official apparel partner for the Singapore Rugby Union.

Headhunter Sport is a local company that manufactures high-quality, affordable custom rugby gear for export.

Speaking to the Borneo Bulletin on the achievement, Headhunter Sport’s Founder and CEO Yusuf Flynn said, “We should have around 16 million people viewing the tournament globally over the two days it is held. This is the first time any clothing brand in this country has probably been put on that level of international stage.

“Basically, we supply the Singapore Rugby Union with all their gear. We’re also official merchandiser for the Singapore leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series, so all of the volunteers, all of the people who want to buy merchandise from that event, to commemorate that event, it has to come from us.

“So you imagine, walking into the place and there are 30,000 fans there and they want to buy a t-shirt. Well, that t-shirt can only come from Headhunter Sport.

Yusuf Flynn (R) and staff from Headhunter Sport. – DANIAL NORJIDI

“It means that the Singapore Rugby Union has vetted us, HSBC has vetted us, World Rugby has vetted us, and they’re confident that we can manufacture a high quality product that’s up to standard.”

Headhunter Sport was created after Yusuf, a third-generation rugby player, heard complaints from other players about being unable to attain quality rugby gear due to it being expensive. He decided to look into why it was so expensive, and in doing so, identified a business opportunity.

He travelled and met with fabric engineers, and then he started designing rugby apparel, which was well received and started to sell. Eventually, a professional rugby team in England started wearing gear from Headhunter Sports.

At first, Yusuf and a few staff members had to work from his dining room table, before he met with DARe (Darussalam Enterprise). He participated in one of DARe’s bootcamp programmes, where he said he learnt a lot.

Headhunter Sport now has a facility in the Beribi Industrial area, and has about 25 staff, and Yusuf likens their teamwork to that of a rugby team. “They work together, they work hard together and they want to achieve things together,” he said. “I think it’s important to have a team, and I think we as a group of people working together for a common goal can achieve far more than a group of individuals within a team.”

Through Headhunter Sport, Yusuf said he hopes to be able to fund the growth of rugby as a sport in Brunei Darussalam and make it sustainable. “We’re hoping to continue growing the business so that we can create jobs, we can give opportunities for athletes, and we can create a potential pathway for career athletes and future generations, and we’re hoping to grow an international clothing brand out of this country.”

On what is next for Headhunter Sport, going forward, Yusuf said, “Tier 1 rugby teams and premiership teams. We have interest from premiership teams in other countries. We will look to that. We’re looking at other premiership teams and tier 1 international teams if we can. I want to build Headhunter to be an international rugby brand.”

Sharing some advice for budding entrepreneurs, based on his own experience, he said, “Work really, really, really, really hard.”

He also highlighted the importance of having a really good support network. “I wouldn’t be here today without the people who supported me. My wife, my family, my kids, even my team. They all know that I put in 16-17 hours a day, seven days a week, and sometimes I might work for three, four, five months and not make a cent, because every time I earned a dollar I’ve got to put it back into the business.”

“You can’t go anywhere in life without help. If you think that you’re too good then that’s the wrong attitude to have, because everyone needs help. It doesn’t matter who you are.”

Speaking on the business support environment in Brunei Darussalam, he said that DARe helps facilitate new businesses, noting that they have mentors and help provide access to MSME financing. He has previously shared that DARe helped him structure his business and understand where he needs to take it, and provided him with the tools to get from point A to point B.

“DARe has done everything it possibly can to facilitate growth of entrepreneurship in this country. Now all we need is for entrepreneurs to step up,” he said.

“Everything is there. If you’re in a kitchen and you want to cook something, all the ingredients are on the table, they’re all chopped up. So as an entrepreneur it’s time for you to create that magic dish,” he affirmed. “You have everything at your fingertips,” he continued, adding that it is important to support local, but think global.”