HOCKEY IN THAILAND
by Jason Cotsmire
My experience with hockey in Thailand dates back over 15 years
ago. It was during my summer break from high school that I cam
back to visit my grandparents for the summer. At that time,
relatives had informed me that Bangkok had just opened an ice
rink in the Mall Dept. Store on Rajaprasong Rd. I brought my
skates along on the trip and expected to keep in shape by skating
around the rink during public sessions. You must remember at
this time that Ice Skating was fairly new to Thailand and the
sight of someone who could skate well was unusual
As I became
a regular, the rink guards and a few diehards befriended me and
invited me to play hockey after hours at the rink. I agreed
and played what would generously be called a game of shinny/pond
meaning minimal equipment and even less minimal skills.
Never the less it was fun and I enjoyed teaching those who were
interested the basics.
After that summer, I would return to Thailand to find the old
rink closed and a new one open in The Mall, Ramkhamhaeng. This
rink was much more suited to hockey as its dimensions were more
in line with a real hockey rink. I found out from the regular
skaters there that there was hockey being played and was invited
to come watch and play. I went to watch one night and went back
home to tell my Mom to bring over my equipment. Within two years,
the level of play had improved considerably and more and more
kids were equipped with real hockey equipment. In the beginning
they had fashioned their own equipment or didn't use any at all.
This would go on for a couple of years when I would return to
visit my family and play hockey at the same time.
It wasn't until five years ago that I truly became immersed in
the hockey scene in Bangkok. That was when I moved back and
began to look for an outlet to play my favorite sport. Hockey
is not a game that is advertised in Bangkok, so the organization
is mostly by word of mouth within the hockey community. The
kids will tell you about it and maybe you'll run into another
player by accident and find out about it.
A league that plays a regular schedule every year has never been
organized in Thailand. Most of the time, the rinks wishing to
ensure a source of revenue will organize a mini league and invite
teams to play a short schedule of games. More often than not,
these so-called leagues were initiated by the players themselves
including both Thais and Farangs. At its peak, Thailand fielded
16 teams of Thai kids and one Farang team that played in four
rinks within Bangkok. The ice rinks at The Mall in Ramkhamhaeng
and Ngam Wong Wan have been closed to make way for movie theaters.
The only existing rinks are at Imperial Samrong and Imperial
Lad Prao. The Samrong rink is as close to regulation size as
Thailand has right now and Lad Prao is a mini rink that can only
accommodate 4 on 4 hockey. Recently, Hong Kong based Asiasports
has been actively involved in trying to organize a regularly
scheduled league for the Bangkok teams. This league is scheduled
to begin in mid-July and run until October with 8-12 teams participating
in two divisions.
After that the annual International Tournament run by the
Flying Farangs will take place with competing teams from all
I really must take my hat off to the kids in Thailand who
play hockey and for the many families that support them. The
play a sport that is not native to their country and they play
in it total obscurity. Yet they persist and have produced some
very skilled players. Many of these people have taken the initiative
themselves to ensure that ice hockey survives in Thailand and
continues to grow.
I try to help in any way I can and have helped to coach teams
and organize both the international tournament and the Bangkok