Opinion: Promoting sporting events in Phuket

PHUKET: Sirawee Waloh, originally a native of Pattani, was appointed as the new director of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Phuket Office (MOTS) on July 25, 2016. She had previously been working as a human resource developer and nurse at Pattani Provincial Public Health Office for 18 years. She is a graduate of the College of Nursing, Songkhla.

Here, she talks about sporting trends in Phuket and areas that need improvement.

First of all, I would like to congratulate all the participants and medal winners of the 2016 Rio Olympics. I would particularly like to commend the weightlifting medal winners, as this sport is not very popular with Phuketians currently and we don’t have many national weightlifting champions.

However, I hope that these wins and other victories in important regional matches can help develop weightlifting into an outstanding sport in Phuket and Thailand in the near future. This will motivate the younger generation to pay more attention to weightlifting.

The trend of sports in Phuket is extraordinary. Sports are an important factor in attracting tourists to the island. For example, world class internationally renowned golf tournaments are one of the biggest sports tourism attractions. Golf players, along with their staff and families, come to the island for golf tournaments, which is a huge income boost for locals.

Another upcoming trend is Muay Thai training. This is a blend of sports tourism and beach holiday, for those who want to develop their boxing technique and take their training to a new level, and also want to enjoy the island life.

Modern, high standard boxing camps are rapidly opening up and gaining popularity on the island. People from all over the world come to train in Phuket at camps such as Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp, Dragon Muay Thai Camp, Siam Muay Thai Academy and Phuket Muay Thai Training Camp.

Additionally, we have world-class sailing races, such as Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek and the King’s Cup Regatta, that are immensely popular every year. The King’s Cup is Asia’s biggest and most popular regatta, a one-week event held annually in Phuket. It was inaugurated in 1987 to celebrate the 60th birthday of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It was also awarded the ‘Best Asian Regatta’ at the 12th Asia Boating Awards held in May, organized by Asia-Pacific Boating and China Boating magazines.

For locals, football is still the most popular sport, both in Phuket and other provinces. We have centralized different kinds of sport in the Saphan Hin area, which is an ideal location, surrounded by the relaxing sea atmosphere. Additionally, strong cooperation between provincial authorities – both private and public – helps boost the sports industry in Thailand.

We also have several training institutes for athletes, such as Thanyapura Sports & Leisure Club, one of the finest Asian sport, fitness and health havens, that features the best sports facilities and coaching expertise. We are also lucky that there are private sector organizations ready to support and sponsor our teams all the time.

However, there are some areas we need to improve and focus on to further develop Phuket as a world-class sports tourism destination.

First of all, we need bigger and better venues, such as stadia, to host both domestic and international matches. We also need to improve facilities, such as toilets and old equipment, at existing venues. Another area of focus is improving the quality of our athletes through more rigorous professional training. We aim to train our athletes in sports tactics, such as how to play with the least amount of exertion and injury, how to deal with injuries and how to enhance strength and stamina.

Our aim is to host major international sporting events, such as the 2014 Asean Beach Games. If Phuket has a chance to host big sporting events like this, it would provide a much-needed boost to our sports facilities and venues, and will surely benefit locals as well.

— Sukawin Tanthavanich

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