Editor’s Note: A little while back we asked the fans of Lacrosse All Stars network and Thailand lacrosse to e-mail us any question you have for our President/Founder: Prantarit (Payu) Nerngchamnong. After one week, we received over 50 e-mails (and they kept coming!) so Payu told us to keep it open to the fans for a month, and from there he will choose the questions that he’ll answer here on our blog. So finally, after reading through all the e-mails which he will answer whether or not it get chosen for here( just give the man sometime, he got a lot on his plate after all). So here it is… take it away Payu:
Q: Why Lacrosse in Thailand? and if it wasn’t lacrosse what other sport would you want to represent Thailand in? James T.- Detroit, Michigan
Payu: I love lacrosse from the very first time I picked up a stick back in 1996. It’s the love of the game, and I want to share it to those in Thailand who never get a chance to try and see if they feel the same. People should be denied of that right because of their geography, or lack of opportunity. All the game grower out there knows it is an uphill struggle, so the love of the game is definitely an important ingredient in starting a program. Also we’re living in the time where we ALL can make significant impact on where our beloved sport is heading. I am just happy to be a catalyst to make lacrosse a reality in Thailand. As for the second part.. if it wasn’t lacrosse, I would probably take a stab at starting a Thai snowboarding or a bobsled team (laugh).
Q: Where do you hope Thailand Lacrosse Association will go, and what do you see as reality? Nick W. – Newbury Port, Massachusetts
Payu: I hope that one day Thailand will be one of a strong lacrosse program in international competition, as well as development aspect. I would like to see both Thai men’s and women’s program grow to the likes of Japan’s in the next 5-10 years. Which are all very realistic goals, and I do think that it goes hand in hand with one another. As the level of lacrosse in the country developed, so will the level of play of the national team in the international competition.
Q: What was your first stick, and what kind of pocket was it? Christie M. – Stamford, Connecticut
Payu: Well, the first stick that was given to me to learn the sport was a “Hi-Wall” (remember those?) it had a mesh pocket, it wasn’t very cool back then. Then my parents bought me a STX “Turbo” with the help of course from my school’s “mentor” who was the captain of the Varsity team. It came in a traditional pocket (that’s right Connor Wilson, Payu used to play with traditional pocket too).
Q: There were those who feel that all these Thai “swags” are nice and all, but is it necessary for a young lacrosse program like TLA? Lewis B. – Phoenix, Arizona
Payu: It’s depending on your definition of “necessary”, does any team really need two or even three different gloves in a season? probably not. But does it help our goal as being one of the better marketed international team, in a fashion oriented world of lacrosse? getting much needed exposure for our program? Yes. Which helped when it comes to securing partner, and sponsors that help bring down the cost of it all anyway. You gotta remember too that we do have a “hand down system” so when the national team received new gear, the “old ones” got allocated toward lacrosse development program.
Which add to the gears that TLA also purchased separately for the development program for Thailand. Actually some of which were given to Singapore program when they were just starting off in 2011. I believe our system worked, as the new players to the game in our country received newer equipment than other development programs annually. It is worth noting too that we’re the only program in the world that rented the field twice a week ALL YEAR ROUND without any expenses for our members, and people who are new to the sport. So the team’s new gears does NOT have any “negative effect” sort of speak to the growth of the game in Thailand.
Q: Why start lacrosse in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines when you already have your own program in your country? Peter G. – San Francisco, California
Payu: There is a famous quote from Mario Puzo that stuck with me: “I always believe helping a fellow man is profitable in every sense, personally and the bottom line” If I have an ability to do something to help grow lacrosse, I feel I shouldn’t just stop because it’s not directly related to the growth of lacrosse in my OWN country. There are a lot of “talks” about growing the game in the U.S. but very little action behind the effort outside of the States itself. If I can use my talent, connections, financial supports to help get the program started in those countries, then I am satisfied. And where they take it from there, it’s up to those on the ground in those particular countries. On top of that I believe the whole Asia lacrosse community and not just Thailand, will benefit greatly from additional “local” competitions. Just the same way the European federation enjoyed, with all the teams all so close by to one another.
Q: What did it feels like to helped put the team together, and played your first national game for Thailand back in 2010? David S. – Greenfield, Massachusetts
Payu: One word: Surreal. Even today looking back at it, I still unsure how we managed to put together a team of 18 guys in less than 6 months. Then flew to Hong Kong to played an extremely fit, and discipline national team (it was right before they were shipping off to Manchester ’10). I was so busy with the preparation, I didn’t get a chance to try on the uniform until game day when I handed them out to the team. But it really hits home when I stood there in the huddle, with 17 other guys wearing the same uniform. We all looked at one another and were like: “holy s*** this is it…” there wasn’t any memorable speech from me, nor it was expected. It was all happening so fast, and then when I scored the first ever goal for us to tied us at 1-1. It was another “holy s*** we just SCORED!!” and I believe that was when it became real to all of us. We all worked as a unit, clearing on defense, transitioning at midfield, and a great ball movement in the attack to get me a perfect opportunity to score a goal for Thailand. From just two people (myself and a friend/mentor: Paul Kanjanapas) at the first ever lacrosse practice, to playing and winning our first game a few months later was as I said before; Surreal.
Q: How many helmets do you have personally? Jeffery S. – Hoboken, New Jersey
Payu: Just lacrosse helmet correct? If so, then eight. It used to be nine but I donated one for the auction for flood victims last year. I believe I owned every generations of Cascade helmets Post-turtle bucket helmet era. Recently, I have added Thailand’s first box lacrosse helmet (Cascade M11) to the collection thanks to my friends back on the State side. One of my favorite got to be the matte black “Woozles” helmet that the Team Woozles/LAS all signed for me after Tahoe tournament last year. It’s definitely right up there with the very first Thailand lacrosse helmet.
To be continue on Part 2 and 3…