The Inspiring Story Of Playing Football On Water

panyee2“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”– Winston Churchill

The story of Panyee FC is one that is filled with positivity, ambition, and hope in the face of long odds. The story of how a team of small boys made a football pitch on the sea and went on to inspire a whole country.

Koh Panyee is a small fishing village on the coast of Thailand. The village is next to rocky islands so the villagers have built all structures on stilts. The paths are narrow and there is no solid ground. The main income activity is fishing with little else to do in form of recreation.

In 1986, a group of young boys was inspired after watching the Football World Cup. They decided to form their own football club. This seemed ridiculous in the face of the fact that there was not an inch of ground on which they could play.

Undaunted, the boys decided to build a football pitch on the sea. They collected wooden poles, bamboo sticks and other scraps that could float on water. The end result was a rickety but functional football pitch floating in the sea. Nails and wooden splints stuck out, and when it rained the pitch was slippery.

panyeePanyee FC boys were not bowed by these challenges. They practiced everyday after school much to the bemusement of the adults. They practiced barefoot without team uniform. Their skills improved tremendously as they were forced to practice moves on a small pitch with a small goal post to try scoring. The slippery pitch improved their nimbleness and the challenges improved their tenacity.

The boys decided to try the mainland tournament. The mainland teams put them off as they thought them inexperienced. The teams were shocked when Panyee FC easily beat them one after the other. The boys went on to reach the mainland semi-finals.

During the semi-final game, the boys surprised everyone by opting to play barefoot in the rain relying on their experience on a slippery pitch. They tied the game, but sadly lost in the final minutes. This was not a loss for them but rather an inspiration that they could achieve much with determination. The Panyee community rallied behind the boys to build a better pitch and make a better team. Panyee FC went on to win several tournaments. Today the old pitch still floats as a testament of these boys who had nothing to build on but hope.

Affirmation for today:

I am inspired, enthusiastic and success bound. My journey ends only after achieving success.

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