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
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."