The football pitch of Koh Panyee

by Sandra Weller

Rausch (Ausgabe I/2017)


The football pitch on the island of Ko Panyee, Thailand. Photo: Sandra Weller

Boys play soccer on a turquoise blue surface. You have to aim the ball carefully or it shoots off into the water: this is a soccer pitch that floats in the middle of the sea.

Sitting on a longtail boat, between fruit, rice, dishes, toilet paper and a few Thai people, you can go to the island of Koh Panyee in the south of the country. After a twenty-minute drive past bizarre rock formations, houses appear on a large rock in the distance. Some 2,000 people live on the island and their houses are built on stilts in the sea. The floating soccer field was built after the 1986 World Cup. Until that point, there wasn't much for children to do on Koh Panyee.

They could only play on the jetties or in the houses or jump into the sea. The boys watched the World Cup games with so much enthusiasm that they wanted their own team. The children collected wood every day after school. They hammered the boards together with nails, tied the resulting raft-like surface to the jetty and let it slide into the water. The big raft is now a football pitch. Over time it has been constantly improved. Today floating plastic elements support the wooden field, rubber mats level the surface and two small gates stand on the edge. And since 2011, Panyee FC has been the most successful youth football club in southern Thailand.

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