The floating football field of the Andaman Sea
The Andaman Sea is home to one of the most incredible sporting achievements in the world – a floating football field. Located on the island of Koh Panyi, the field was built by local children in 1986 using wooden planks and nails. The field is the only one of its kind in the world, and its history is one of the most inspirational in sports.
The island itself is located in the scenic Phang Nga Bay, known for its clear blue waters, karst islets, and paradise beaches. The area was made famous in 1974 when nearby Koh Khao Kan island was unofficially renamed James Bond Island after Roger Moore filmed “The Man with the Golden Gun” there.
Koh Panyi dates back 200 years when the islet was first inhabited by Muslim fishermen from Malaysia. The nomads built their wooden houses on the water since the land was rocky and had many sheer cliffs.
The floating village is picturesque and distinct, inviting visitors to walk through its floating alleys between fish-drying sheds and plastic flowers. Surrounded by islets, it is part of the Ao Phang Nga National Park, the second-largest marine national park in Thailand.
Generations thrived there, and in 1986 the children of Koh Panyi gathered together to watch the World Cup in Mexico on one of the few televisions in the floating village.
Inspired, the kids dreamed of playing football and formed a club. The elders in the floating village doubted them, as there was no place to practice or play the sport that requires a large field. But the children were determined and excited.
The children set to work using wooden planks and nails to build their floating football field. They began to train on the field until they managed to participate in the Phanga Cup youth tournament. To the shock of spectators, the team from the floating village reached the semifinals while playing barefoot and without real equipment.
Following their initial success, the Panyee FC football team went on to dominate in other competitions, achieving an impressive seven consecutive championship titles in the youth league of southern Thailand between 2004 and 2011. Today, the team is regarded as one of the most accomplished football teams in Thailand.
Even today, they still prefer to play barefoot, although they now have good sports equipment and two floating football fields made of better materials. Their story serves as a tale of teamwork and dedication to achieving their goals.
The floating football field of Koh Panyi is a memorial to the hard work and dedication of the island’s children. Their story is one of inspiration, perseverance, and teamwork, and is a charming example of the power of sports to unite and inspire people.
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