This blog is from 'The World Footballer' organisation and one of its participants on the Nomadic Footballer project.
The Nomadic Footballer project is an exciting new initiative that offers anyone the opportunity to train with a professional football club in alternative destinations, from India, Thailand and the Philippines to Guatemala, Ecuador, Kazakhstan and more.
This is the second blog from the story of one of our intrepid footballers journeying around the globe. These are real people. And real stories.
The Nomadic Footballer project is well and truly under way in Thailand, a week has passed since our first arrival touched down in this magnificent country, and what a week it has been.
From getting lost in the Thai countryside & running out of petrol, painful Thai massages, superstar photo shoots, monsoon rains during trial matches and new nicknames it has certainly been an eventful week for one of our nomadic footballers.
During this past week our nomad has been training with Lamphun Warriors FC. Lamphun is a small town about 30 km from Chiang Mai set amongst rolling green hills and paddy fields as far as the eye can see, it's a beautiful area of northern Thailand.
It’s also a little bit off the beaten track, not one tourist (or ‘ferang’ as the locals refer to a Westerner) to be seen.
Here is the latest blog entry from our lad Tim Rivers in Thailand...
I was a little bit more out of my comfort zone than I was back in Chiang Mai but arriving at the training complex in Lamphun I was given a very warm welcome from the managers and the players and this helped settle my nerves.
I was straight into a kick-about with the team, quickly earning the nickname ‘T-POWER’ after demonstrating what I think the Thai lads considered strong ball striking. I managed to shrug this nickname off only to be replaced later on with another - ‘Lewandowski’, absolutely no idea why, and I was not really sure if they were taking the piss or complimenting my finishing prowess but it was preferential to ‘T-POWER’ either way.
After training Paul and I decided to take a different route back on our little scooter to Chiang Mai, opting for the highway instead of the country back roads this time because we thought it would be quicker. Terrible idea...
We were forced into the hard shoulder by all the passing trucks which gave off thick black fumes and kicked up dust as they did. By the time we got back my wrists and back were numb with pain caused by the constant thumping in and out of potholes and my stomach was full of all the bugs and insects I had just inhaled.
Back at the Hotel in Chiang Mai, feeling exhausted, Paul from The World Footballer suggested I take a massage. My first Thai massage...how bad could it be?
I was nervous... I had been warned of the agony that these brutal pastimes can inflict and conscious of the notorious ‘alternative’ endings so I was a little apprehensive.
I was given a fetching pair of Thai style pyjamas to jump in to and the torture began, I was manipulated into all sorts of unorthodox positions. It was relentless, the masseuse would find a knot somewhere and dig at it until it was gone. I would also like to strictly confirm to all my friends and family reading this that absolutely no ‘happy endings' occurred.
I woke up the next day with a new found ‘Stretch Armstrong’ like flexibility in my legs and back and not a single aching muscle in my body. I was ready to go again for whatever the next training session would throw at me.
Training went well over the next couple of days and by Saturday I had impressed the coaching staff enough for there to be talks of signing up already. So by the Sunday when Lamphun played Sukhothai FC there was already rumours going around the ground among the fans that a new English foreign import was about to sign.
The Warriors were beaten 2-1 thanks to a last minute winner but it was a good game to watch and I especially enjoyed the half time spicy sausages outside the ground. What has been really evident after watching the couple matches of Thai football so far is the level of support the teams receive, it has a tribal feeling about it, the fans are brilliant, the loud drums, the singing from way before kick-off to the very last minute whatever the scoreline.
They even brought roses to the ground for this game to offer to the players and coaching staff, not sure how that would go down in English football but a lovely gesture all the same.
After the game I made my way to the dugout to talk with the manager and was quickly mobbed by the fans. The fans lined up to have pictures taken and sign autographs, I was posing for pictures for a good 20 minutes! I could get used to this I thought.
In all the excitement after the game we somehow forgot which way Chiang Mai was, we got lost and quickly ran out of petrol. But then thankfully, out of nowhere, just as we began to panic and the scooter began to cough and splutter a tiny fuel station appeared. It was as if someone was looking down on us having seen two hopelessly lost Englishmen, thousands of miles from home need a helping hand, a perfect ending to a brilliant day.
After training the next day I was invited back to the team camp for dinner with all the boys. I had the pleasure of sampling what can only be described as ‘interesting’ Thai cuisine which included a plate of catfish with heads still intact and boiled egg stew with strange vegetation floating suspiciously in it.
I spent a few hours socialising with the players after dinner, slowly feeling like a more welcome member of the team, building new friendships particularly with the couple of lads from Ghana.
I have been for a team gym session this morning and halfway through a couple of the Thai players were picking up frogs and throwing them at each other.
“The frogs are poisonous, you will die” they said in their broken English. Just the kind of banter you find back in a changing room back home I thought, if not a little more extreme.
Anyway, must dash, I’m late for the pedicure I’m booked in for this morning...
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