Bangkok Ball Hockey in a Nutshell
by Scott Murray

Hockey - not the ice or field variety, but the kind you play on concrete with a ball. That's what the Thai Stix practice, and they do it well. This group of intellectual jocks (they are mostly financial analysts or corporate executives) display their skills and stickwork on the British Club's tennis courts every Thursday nite.

One of the founders of the Thai Stix was the son of a former Canadian Ambassador to Thailand, Luc Perron. Indeed, six years ago, the Thai Stix started playing on the roof of the AIA building on Suriwong Road. They caught more breeze that way.


Richard Meiklejohn has really been the driving force behind the Thai Stix. Nicknamed "Reg" after Reg Dunlap, the colorful character Paul Newman plays in the film Slapshot, he's a natural leader and you get the feeling his teammates would go to war for him. Although Rich has since moved to Sydney, Australia, where he runs the office of an up-and-coming e-commerce firm called E-gain, his goal is to one day win the Mekong Cup, an event held annually in Phuket, which he helped to organize six years ago. Teams from Singapore, Malaysia and even Vietnam come to Thailand's largest island to compete for this coveted prize.


The team's team captain, John Casella, has tried to take a more low-key approach to the Mekong Cup, as last year's team wanted to win so badly, that they ended up psyching themselves out and a combination of poor goaltending and lack of firepower led to an early exit from the tournament.


Ball hockey developed in North America as a way ice hockey players could keep in shape during the summer months when ice time was scarce. Some of the Thai Stix also play ice hockey with the Flying Farangs but they will likely admit that as they get older, they find it tougher to play ball hockey because of the greater demands it puts on their cardiovascular system. Because of the heat and the nature of the game - you can't float like you can in ice hockey - it is just such a demanding workout.

 



The game itself has morphed from simply using dead tennis balls, beat up ice hockey sticks, a driveway and a couple of trash cans as goal posts. Now there are roller blades (yes, there is a league), high-tech equipment and playing surfaces and special roller or hockey balls. But the Thai Stix are purists - balls and stixs, enthusiasm and that never ending competitive spirit is what you'll find flying about between Silom and Suriwong every Thursday nite.


Kelly Cailes, one of the longest serving members on the squad, tells us why the game turns him on so much: "First, it has to do with carrying on the great hockey tradition that almost every Canadian shares. Second, the thrill of playing in a tropical climate is quite bizarre. Third, recapturing that love for the game after not participating for awhile. You can get it back in your blood very quickly. And last, but not least, we climax the season with a great tournament, the Mekong Cup, that brings together several Asian countries for a great competition and a great time."



"I would say spirit, heart, desire and fun are useful words in describing how a lot of the Thai Stix feel. Hockey really hits HOME with all of us."