Thailand's awe-inspiring soccer team
Why Spielberg hasn’t purchased the rights to the story of the Panyee FC soccer club is beyond me. Twenty-five years ago in Koh Panyee, a teensy-weensy fishing village built entirely on stilts off the coast of Thailand, a group of young boys obsessed with soccer decided to stop watching the games on TV and play it for themselves. The only problem was that Koh Panyee has no soil, no ground to speak of at all beyond the elevated wooden slats that make up the cramped little village. So the boys took a cue from their forefathers and built a soccer pitch from scratch from pieces of scrap wood nailed together atop a network of old fishing boats.
The pitch was small, uneven and dotted with protruding nails. The ball was frequently kicked off the edge and into the water and soon enough the entire wooden “field” would get slippery and wet. But these setbacks only made the boys into better players, and when they eventually went to a nearby soccer tournament, they placed second. Now Panyee FC is more than just a story of triumph over adversity, it’s one of the most successful youth clubs in Southern Thailand, and its been getting a lot of attention ever since TMB Bank released a short promotional film about the team’s story two weeks ago. The film is sentimental and corny, to be sure, but that doesn’t stop it from being a pretty incredible story.