Construction of the stadium
Maechan, 17 May 2010
30.000.000b for Chiangrai Hills, a promissing hill tribe football team.
In 2009 a hill tribe football team was created in Chiangrai.
After only a year, the new born team is ready for the future, with secure financial backing and, soon, its own stadium… The most beautiful private football stadium of the region.
The official launch of the construction took place on Sunday 16th of May 2010. On that date the name and logo of Chiangrai Hills FC were unveiled. The Chiangrai Hills FC aims and challenges were introduced to the guests and the details of whole project were explained with the help of a 3D computer presentation. TV personality Andy Kempimook joined the party with the team of TV program Chan Rak Mueang Thai (MCOT Ch9).
Chiangrai Hills, the story:
Less than a year ago, Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz (Count Gerry), chairman of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation took up a new challenge among his numerous charity activities in the north of Thailand.
The story starts in May 2005 when two hill tribe youngsters of Chiangrai came to share a dream with Count Gerry. A dream which they thought was inaccessible to them; Creating football team of their own. They knew many young hill tribe boys who were passionate by football but opportunities for them to join a team were very limited.
It did not take long for Count Gerry and the two boys to reach an agreement on how they would make this dream come true.
The first steps were too recruit good players among the hill tribe communities and start to train. Count Gerry agreed to help with the costs involved and gave them 6 months to prove that they were ready to work hard to reach their goal.
Football kits were designed by the players themselves, material was ordered and a car, redecorated with the colors of the team, was given for transportation.
Discussions about the name took place and the name Chiangrai Hills was chosen to emphasize the hill tribe background of the players. The logo was also designed by the players, to include references of the foundation, Count Gerry’s family, the Chiangrai province and its mountains.
The board members of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation agreed that the football project would be supervised by the foundation, but all the costs would be covered privately by Count Gerry.
The Chao Phya Abhai Raja Foundation is active in numerous projects aimed at helping the disadvantaged youngters of Chiangrai, mainly the hill tribes. The foundation is named after an ancestor of Count Gerry’s family who was the General Advisor of H.M. King Rama V between 1892 and 1901. Besides Count Gerry, the board members are Thaanit Vajarodaya, Adith Cheosakul, Somjai Sasomsarp, Somrit Puntharat and Patrick Rolin.
While at the beginning many observers might have been skeptical about the success of this project, the hill tribe boys have been fighting for their club without being discouraged at any time.
Thanks to the support of long time Chiangrai resident Drs. John Jeurissen, who helps with the outside communication of the project, contacts were taken with First Division team Chiangrai United. This encounter quickly led to genuine friendship between Chiangrai United’s Chairman Miti Tiyaphairat and Count Gerry. Collaboration between the two teams was set up and Chiangrai Hills is now considered the “little brother” of Chiangrai United.
Moreover, Chiangrai Hills is trained by Chiangrai United coach Suthee on a full time basis and the team is progressing very quickly.
While there could have been a temptation to quickly start to play in Second Division, the team has decided to play the wisdom card and keep low profile for one more year.
Indeed, even with the full support of Count Gerry and the Chao Phya Abhai Raja foundation, the club faces challenges that other teams might not face. Being a full hill tribe team, Chiangrai Hills cannot count on the support of talented players coming from abroad. All players must be found among the best players of the Thai hills and progress till they reach the level required to compete with other teams. The disadvantaged background of the players, coming from 3 different provinces, must also be taken into account in the organization of the group.
So, the team wisely decided to take advantage of this year to concentrate on progress, build a real team spirit and be sure that they would be ready to compete once enlisted in the Second Division. Common sense says that one should join a competition with the best chances to achieve a respectable performance.
But the dream of Chiangrai Hills and its players does not end here.
A football team also needs a “home”…
After witnessing the perseverance of the players during the first 6 months, Count Gerry decided to go a step further and allocate more private funds for what will be the Chiangrai Hills Stadium, an investment of over 30.000.000b which will be the private field and home of the team.
The construction of the stadium has started and should be ready by January 2011.
Located in Maechan, on a 14 rai land donated by Somrit Puntharat, board member of the foundation, the stadium will not be the biggest of the province, but certainly aims at being the nicest private field, with an architecture blending with the local nature.
The stadium will include a playing field of FIFA standard, a training field, stands for 2000 fans, fitness area, players’ rooms, parking spaces, a stage for concerts, giant LED screen and recreation areas for the fans.
It is when visiting the construction site that one can understand the commitment of the Chiangrai Hills players. On a regular basis, between training sessions, the whole team can be seen helping the construction workers in every task. Count gerry encourages the young players to think and act as real owners of the stadium and feel responsible for all aspects of the project. Football is certainly the first aim of Chiangrai Hills but there are many other aspects involved in this project and still a lot to learn for the players who will have to run the stadium by themselves once it is completed. The Chiangrai Hills football project is an occasion for them to learn about management, organization, marketing or communication.
As Count Gerry likes to say, the team is formed by those who can really fight. And this does not mean fighting on the field, but rather fighting for a better life and for the pride of the hill tribes.
For more information about Chiangrai Hills, please contact the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org