In every other nation of the world, football refers to what us yanks call soccer; and they call our football: “American football.” It’s well known that soccer is quite popular with both genders in the United States, some of the students here were aware of that even. However, in Thailand it’s still catching as a girl’s sport, it’s mainly a boy’s sport for now. Though our school has volleyball for both genders. I believe some schools in Illinois have men’s volleyball also, but any way. I think a lot of that (lack of men’s volleyball in the states) has to do with Title IX, sadly.
In a combination of nostalgia and insanity, I joined boys’ football practice for an evening. I intended to just scrimmage with them, but it turned out to be running the laps, doing the cone drills, the whole nine yards. I talked to one of the coaches the previous day so I didn’t just run onto the field without his permission, but I surprised the students. :-) Sometimes at lunch time students scrimmage, and I have every intention of finding days where my skirt and shoes are ‘close enough’ and I just run onto the field to join them. I do however, have that whole teaching thing to keep in mind also, and I’ve needed lunch for eating and planning. We have approximately 50 minutes for lunch, so the students get somewhat of recess in there as well. The whole school has lunch at the same time.
December 1st was a Wednesday; the following week there was no class for the sports days (more later), and this week on Wednesday some of my students asked if I would practice, they wanted to see me play football. Unfortunately I grabbed the stack of papers I need to mark and indicated that I could not practice today; which of course got the response of “you know Teacher Jenny, if you didn’t give us so much homework you wouldn’t have so much to mark.” Yes. I am aware. Thanks for that. I’m still giving you homework.
I polled some girls about whether or not they’d like to start a girl’s football team. So far I’ve gotten a resounding NO. Though a teacher mentioned younger girls are starting to play football in Thailand, perhaps if they grow up with it they’ll be more enthusiastic about it.
I was worried about my foray into football being viewed as an ‘oh farangs always get what they want,’ but I told myself not to worry about it too much. And it turns out, it was received more in a “hey, the farang actually interacts with Thai people!” Sort of postive light. And I’ve gotten positive feedback from both staff and students. I guess I’d better catch up on this marking so I will be available to play again next time.
Other notes: our school practice football field is concrete, and smaller than standard. The boys practice in flat-footed football shoes; though for sports day they had cleats and got to play on a full size grass field in the stadium at Thammasat, Rangsit campus (major university in Bangkok, history and details for another time). The girls practice volleyball in the parking lot just adjacent, and ‘Cheer’ practice occurs between the two. Cheer is completely different in Thailand, and co-ed. The students posted a youTube video of this year’s cheer performance, I’ll find the link – they did an awesome job.