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The beauty of football is that it can be played absolutely anywhere. You don’t need a perfectly cut pitch, or a pricey match ball; all you need is something remotely round, some space, and some imagination. 

Imagination is exactly what a small group of islanders used when they developed the idea that came to be the famous floating field of Koh Panyi. Located in a small and previously unknown fishing village in the province of Phang Nga, Thailand this small suburb was host to less than 2000 residents. Although small in population, their love for the game could not be stopped. Unfortunately for these impassioned football fans, the entire village of Koh Panyi was built on stilts towards the end of the 18th century by fisherman who lacked land rights and wanted easy access to the surrounding bay. Nonetheless, this small community shared the same admiration for the sport as anywhere else on Earth, and much like the rest of the world they would bear witness to the power of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. But still, living in a water based community built on stilts meant that their dream of recreating moments from the Azteca was a challenging one. In spite of this however, this ever so resilient group relied once again on their innovation to solve the problem. Much like the entire village itself, they decided that if lack of space inland was the issue, they would have to brainstorm another way.

Following that World Cup (made famous by Diego Maradona’s hand of god), a group of children decided it was time to take matters into their own hands and began by creating their own team (Panyee FC) and building their own football pitch. Initially built with wood, nails, and fishing cages, the field was far from perfect but would prove to be enough for this small village. How could it not be? Ignoring the obvious dangers like splinters from old planks of wood, getting tetanus from a rusty nail, or having to swim out to sea to grab a ball after a heavy touch, who wouldn’t wanna have a kick about on this magical pitch! 

It was eventually reconstructed to eliminate the exposed nails and rusted iron cages and now, after seven rebuilds, is home to one of the biggest tourist attractions in the entire country. They now have a permanent place to ball out. One much more convenient than having to wait for the the few times a year low tide would provide them with enough space to play on the shores. One that could inspire generations to come not only from the small fishing village but around the world. One that could call itself home to one of the country’s most successful teams in Panyee FC, who have won multiple regional championships. 

It’s hard not to get inspired by the people of Koh Panyi, and even harder not to feel the power of football around the world. In the last place you’d think to find the beautiful game, is where you can find the essence of the sport in the most compelling of ways. 



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