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 hockey…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 over Asia.

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 league.