Donations flowed after people learned how Nantou Senior High School’s tug-of-war squad lacked funding to represent the nation at the international tug-of-war championships to be held in the Netherlands, school dean Huang Kuo-hsuan (黃國軒) said on Monday.
The school’s education foundation received NT$1.2 million (US$35,871) in donations, while a crowd-funding effort has generated NT$3.6 million in an online campaign, Huang said.
The school has halted fundraising as it has reached its goal of NT$4 million, Huang said, adding that any additional money would go toward training the athletes.
The squad is to represent Taiwan in the men’s 560kg and 640kg categories, the junior 560kg category and the open under-23 men’s 600kg category.
The squad started a fundraising hike of Yushan (玉山) on Tuesday last week, completing the hike to the mountain’s peak in 12 hours, the school said.
The event also served as high-altitude training, the school added.
The hike drew media coverage and the squad has since received funding from netizens and other members of the public, including popular music groups and singers such as May Day (五月天) and Kenji Wu (吳克群), the school said.
The efforts have also drawn the attention of legislative candidates from the two main political parties.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) on Monday said that the team faced financial difficulties three years ago when attending the world tug-of-war championships in South Africa.
At that time, Tsai contacted the Liason Office of the Republic of South Africa and Taiwanese expatriates in the nation to provide assistance for the team during their trip, Tsai said.
Tsai called on members of the public to help this year’s squad in any way possible and promised to help by looking for long-term corporate sponsors.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) said she has contacted the Ministry of Education’s Sports Administration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek assistance on behalf of the squad.
Hsu quoted the Sports Administration as saying that it would consider the possibility of providing funding as a special project.
A review committee is to be held tomorrow and the exact amount would be cleared within about two weeks, she quoted the administration as saying.
The school’s Parents’ Association chairman Pu Chih-ming (蒲志銘) said that considering the swiftness of funding arriving from the private sector, “one wonders why the government is always one step behind.”
Pu called on the government to consider earmarking money specifically to fund tug-of-war events, a sport in which Taiwan is considered adept.
The funds would help alleviate athletes’ worries when trying to raise money to cover travel expenses, Pu added.
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