Koh Panyee’s Floating Football Field

Community,Technology August 3, 2012 4:43 pm

Football had been major part of life in the fishing village of Koh Panyee—but only on television.  That all changed in 1986 when a group of children, undeterred by the town’s lack of dry land, built a floating pitch from scrap wood and old fishing rafts.

This film, part of an ad campaign by Thai Military Bank, highlights the triumph of the underdog football club. Underneath this beating-the-odds story, however, lies another of innovation and the DIY ethic. When the would-be footballers didn’t have what they needed, they went out and built it themselves from whatever they could find. One might call it “upcycling”, but in Koh Panyee, it was simply “getting things done”.

The story of the Koh Panyee Football Club drew attention from around the world, including A World of Football (AWOF), a non-profit group that works to promote football as a force for social good. The AWOF team traveled to the village to see firsthand and shoot a video of their own—and were amazed at the community that formed around these innovative kids.

According to Antoine Delhasse, one of the organization’s founding members, the pitch and the passion for football has brought the small village’s community even closer. “When [the villagers] meet at the local cafe after fishing, they all talk enthusiastically about playing in the evening. During games, the entire village gathers next to the field.”