Dateline – Bangkok, Thailand 2010. Passersby stop in wonder. What is going on at Arena 10 Indoor facility in the middle of downtown Bangkok? Strangely armored men with curious poles propelling a hard white ball with ferocious skill. What are they doing? Organized lacrosse has come to Thailand, but how did it get here?
Dateline – Deerfield, Massachusetts 1995. A young man far from his home in Thailand enters life as a boarder at a small school in Deerfield, MA called Eaglebrook School. It is there he learns the sport in which he is found 15 years later playing with a group of like-minded pioneers in the evening heat of beautiful Bangkok. This man’s name is, Prantarit (Payu) Nerngchamnong and this is the story of how Thailand got lacrosse.
Thailand’s journey to lacrosse was born from the return of a generation of Thai students who had studied abroad in the lacrosse-mad worlds of the United States and England. The nucleus of Thailand Lacrosse’s founding fathers met at Suffield Academy in Connecticut where Payu studied, and continued to letter in lacrosse, after he left Eaglebrook School. Though he did not play in college, Payu was nothing if not resourceful and decided to help found a club team for competitive lacrosse players who were unable to join any of the existing club teams in New York and New Jersey. The team was “New York Orca Lacrosse” based in Manhattan. Forming that team helped paved the way for Thailand Lacrosse and the experience he gained and the mistakes he made prepared Payu for the task that lay ahead in organizing a club lacrosse in Thailand.
Once back in Thailand, Payu kept thinking about lacrosse and starting a team. Eventually with 2 other Thai alumni of Suffield he began planning the founding of not only a club but an entire association with the goal to develop lacrosse in Thailand for future generations. This group envisioned men’s and women’s national teams competing on the international stage. Their inspiration was Japan who was the pioneer Asian country to have a team in the world game and their hope lay in FIL and its high level of activity in expanding the sport across the world. Payu and friends believed that it was important to set up a national governing body to create the climate for future development, not just having “a team from Thailand”. Japan’s Yasuhiko Hayakawa is still a great help and supporter of the Thai effort.
Payu and his friends founded Thailand Lacrosse Association (TLA) in 2009 after years of research and recruiting others like themselves who had played lacrosse at a higher level and wanted more than just throwing a ball around in the evenings. Like everything else new, the reaction to lacrosse in Thailand had been mixture of doubt coupled with excitement. While many do not believe that a country that is dominated by soccer would be open to a rough western sport, there are those who welcome and reach out to support Payu and his mates in their quest of making the team and the sport a reality in Thailand.
Thailand Lacrosse on YouTube
One of Payu’s strategies that is bearing fruit is his media campaign which is clearly getting the word out that there is lacrosse to be played. It is bringing in former Thai players, Ex-patriot players, and those who are new to the game. The result is that now twice a week the players are all coming out to throw around at the Arena 10 Indoor facility in downtown Bangkok.
Several companies also reached out to help facilitate, and supported the team such as Maverik Lacrosse who donated equipment, IMPACT Arena, Exhibition and Convention Center who allow the team to use their 20,000 spectator soccer stadium in Meungthong Thani as their outdoor practice facility and home field. This where TLA hopes to host the second lacrosse game ever played in Thailand as well as hosting future lacrosse clinics. The first ever game was the 1974 USA lacrosse team who played an exhibition game at RBSC. The U.S. team presented RBSC with a plaque commemorating the visit, and that plaque is still hanging in the clubhouse today. Talk to FIL’s Tom Hayes about that adventure. Tom continues to support lacrosse in Asia as he is currently spearheading the effort to help Thailand become a full member of FIL.
With help from FIL, the world lacrosse community, and the Thai community, TLA’s next project is to get the women’s team going. They look to have first organized women’s game by early 2011. Watch this space for news of the first ever Thailand Lacrosse Invitational in January 2011. Team Thailand and 7 teams from around the world. Be there.
Dateline – New York City 2005. Prantarit (Payu) Nerngchamnong accepts Orca Lacrosse Club’s first ticket from the New York City Park Police for setting up a lacrosse goal in the middle of Central Park.
• Team Name: Thailand Lacrosse
• Mascot: Chai-Yo (Elephant)
• Website: www.thailandlacrosse.com
• Facebook: www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=265156931798&ref=ts
• Team practice every Tuesday and Thursday at Arena 10 indoor facility conveniently located downtown Bangkok. Once a month practice is held at Thunder Stadium. It is open to both men and women. New experienced and beginning players are all welcome.
• Plans are being made to fly the Hong Kong team in for scrimmages before they head off to the FIL World Championships in Manchester. Further plans include hosting a team to come to Thailand after Manchester for a more formal major sporting event.
• And finally, in the planning stages, with help and support from FIL and Asia Pacific Lacrosse Union (APLU), mark your calendars for January 2011 the first annual Thailand Lacrosse Invitational.
SPONSORS & PARTNERS:
Maverik Lacrosse – Sponsor/Supplier: www.maveriklacrosse.com
Ari Football – Local Company Team Apparel: ww.arifootball.com
Impact Sport Complex – Home Field/ practice facility: www.impact.co.th
ARENA 10 Indoor Football – Indoor Practice Facility: www.arena10.com
Lacrosse Unlimited (NY) – Donated Equipment: www.lacrosseunlimited.com/
About the FIL
The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) is the international governing body for men’s and women’s lacrosse. The FIL currently sanctions five World Championships (women’s and men’s field, women’s and men’s U19 field and men’s indoor). The FIL is responsible for the governance and integrity of all forms of lacrosse and provides responsive and effective leadership to support the sports’ development throughout the world.