Meet the Opera-Singing Millionaire Japanese Shinto Priest About to Invest in NZ Football
Dr Haruhisa Handa sounds like quite the character.
Last week, New Zealand Football announced that Japanese millionaire Dr Haruhisa Handa would be partnering with them to sponsor the Chatham Cup; the Kiwi version of the FA Cup.
While the funding injection is obviously quite the coup for Kiwi domestic football, what's really fascinating is the bloke they've teamed up with to do it.
Described by Forbes Magazine as "one of the most fascinating and beguiling figures in Japan," Dr Handa - in addition to being a wealthy philanthropist - is a Shinto priest, first class calligraphist and artist - and an opera singer and classical composer.
A on-stage baritone, he has performed internationally as an opera singer often, alongside the likes of Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo, and even Michael Bolton.
The West Australian Symphony Orchestra performing an classical composition written by Dr Haruhisa Handa in 1998. Source: Youtube.
Handa is also a top notch golfer, who likes to dabble in poetry too.
"Dr Handa is someone to admire and to watch," Forbes gushed, of NZ Football's new funding hero.
"The breadth and scope of what he contributes not only with his financial support but also with his personal energy and commitment is unique. He practices each and every discipline he is involved with philanthropically."
Before the NZ Football deal, Handa - made a honorary appointment to the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2016 for services to golf and philanthropy - already has a growing association with Kiwi sport.
A brief documentary on Dr Haruhisa Handa and his contributions to blind golf via ISPS. Source: Youtube.
His foundation, ISPS Handa, have been the title sponsor for the NZ Women's Open for the last four years, are the current naming rights sponsor for the NZ Men's Open - and have made big donations to the NZOC and Paralympics New Zealand, too.
"New Zealand is not the only country I have supported football," Handa said, of his NZ Football partnership which will officially come through ISPS.
"I started in South Africa, funding sustainable facilities with Fives Futbol with proceeds supporting local schools and was the title sponsor of Mpumalanga Black Aces for two years where they rose to fourth place in the premier soccer league. It would be wonderful to see a similar impact in New Zealand".