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 third blog from the story of one of our intrepid footballers journeying around the globe. These are real people. And real stories.
As the Nomadic Footballer project continues we find one of our players has started to make themselves at home.
Fluent in Thai and expert in kamikaze scooter riding (OK, one of them may not quite true) but here is the latest from Lamphun, Thailand...
Despite the fact that I have only been training with Lamphun for just over a week, I have received the most overwhelming welcome from the fans of the club.
My Facebook has been inundated with messages of support from the Lamphun fans. Some of the supporters have even gone as far as to trawl through my footballing history on Google and in my Facebook albums to create photo montages of me, start a fan page for me and even begin a petition amongst the fans for the club to sign me.
I find this all so flattering and really touching considering I’m just a strange Englishman who really they know nothing about other than that I look a little different and talk a foreign language. One downfall of this new found ‘superstar’ status is that my Facebook now operates in Thai, very funny to start with but extremely annoying after day four and I still haven’t worked out how to resolve it.
Some of the Thai players have done their best to teach me some Thai in this last week during training and I am proud to say that along with the basic greetings I can now count to ten successfully and even the odd expletive as is customary for anyone learning a new language. Very handy should I need to let the ref know I think he’s made a bad decision in true English fashion.
Training was tough this week, Lamphun Warriors have recently appointed a new head coach, he seemed to be really stamping his authority with the players and put us through some intense fitness drills and lots of technical stuff.
Despite finishing training drenched through with the sweat and absolutely knackered the main issue was actually the language barrier especially when it came to tactical commands.
Most of the time I stood a little confused trying to work out what exactly was being asked of me but I coped OK and got by with the help of a couple of the lads from Ghana who had a better grasp of Thai than myself.
The team played 400km away this weekend against Sukhothai and because of this long distance to travel to the game I decided not to go with the squad on the bus and chose to take the weekend off and become a tourist for a couple days instead.
So on my trusty old scooter I was renting I chugged out of the city, taking the windy roads up into the mountains. On my road trip I passed by colourful Buddhist temples that lit up the mountain road with their exuberant style and colour, a dead dog, a tiger zoo and a number of locals looking busy doing nothing by the road side.
The further out of the city I drove the less traffic there was and soon I had the road to myself. It was one of those golden moments in life; the sun shining down, open road, wind in the hair, stunning scenery with a view of Chiang Mai to one side and mountain ranges to the other, I was one happy nomadic footballer.
Eventually I arrived at the destination I had aimed for on the weathered tourist map I’d picked up for free back at the hotel. It was one of the many waterfalls in the area and it was a welcome sight for sore dusty eyes and sunburnt shoulders.
I jumped into the plunge pool at the bottom of it and just lay there soaking in the icy cold waters. This was the first moment I’d really stopped to take it all in since I’d been away from home. I’ve been on the move constantly and clocked up a lot of miles since I left Heathrow and so I found it a perfect opportunity to reflect on things.
I’ve absolutely loved my time in Thailand so far, almost everyone apart from the overweight miserable woman behind reception at the hotel has given me a warm welcome. I’ve made some good friends at Lamphun Warriors already despite the language barrier.
I’m absolutely loving the food, I can’t get enough of the curries and soups the market stall vendors knock up for next to nothing and the pancakes from the little old man on the corner by my hotel.
I’m also slowly adapting to the 30º+ heat and getting used to the chaotic way of driving the Thais seem to have, learning the way of sliding in and out of traffic jams and pulling out in junctions because you know the on coming traffic is expecting it.
So, come Monday, when the team returns and I go back in to training I’ll be hoping that the manager and couching staff still see the need to add a new player to the ranks and sign me up because I’ve had just a taste of Thailand and Thai football and I’m really hungry for some more.
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