Letters from Laos – “The history of my football team” by Bounthavy Siphonephat
Many boys and young men in Laos still play the traditional ball game “kator” (in Lao), or “sepak takraw” (เซปักตะกร้อ [seːpàk tàkrɔ̂ː] in Thai), meaning “kick the braided ball”). Kator dates back to around 1500 and is similar to volleyball, with the main difference that the players must pass the ball over the net using their feet, heads, chests, and knees, but not their hands. Also, the ball is essentially made of rattan. Here is a little sample from the schoolyard of Ban Phang Heng Secondary School:
Besides, football has also become a very trendy sport in Laos, getting more and more popular especially in the cities.
Mr Bounthavy Siphonephat, an employee in the Electrical Department at the LGTC since 2005 and one of our students in the English Elementary class, is a very passionate player in the LGTC football team. For him as well as for his colleagues and friends, training or matches after work mean exercise and fun to begin with. Then, playing football in a team with colleagues is also an excellent way to combine sports and collaborative activities: Being successful together is the incentive, but more important is the team spirit and being part of a hopefully winning team.
Johannes Zeck, BHS project leader of “Teaching English in Laos”, also always tries to join the training of the LGTC football team when he gets to Vientiane. We (female team members) therefore learnt not to schedule team meetings for Wednesday evenings! We understand why now:
The LGTC football team was created in 1982 around the same time when I was born under name Lao-German graph vocational training team and wearing yellow shirts and black shorts. The Lao-German graph vocational training team under coaching by Mr. Koeoudone eventually earned the gold medal for Lao-football club in 1986 (the now defunct) and upgrade to division one team until 1995, during this time the team didn’t play very often anymore and finally stopped.
In 2005 Mr Bounthavy, Mr Syphone and Mr Saythong had idea for created new football team under name “jigsaw man team” and wearing yellow shirts and blue shorts. we played at saysettha stadium, thanongart stadium and phonpapao stadium (all in Vientiane) with team from TVET (Technical vocational education training) schools and other teams.
In 2008 our team changed name to my style and our team usually had a winner for match and had a more persons from LGTS want to join in my style team than Mr Soutsakhone would like to return team from teacher in LGTS. so LGTS team was born in 2009 in during our team had match for TVET football championship and team had a winner and has a gold medal.
Now my team under name is LGTC (Lao-German Technical college) team and coaching by Mr Khamsing. The team has about 25 persons and every person has different year old, some persons very young around 23-30 years old (Mr Phonesouk, Mr In, Mr Phonesavan, Mr Phonethavy, Mr Kila, Mr Joy, Mr Lir, Mr Kou, Mr Saysongkham Mr Sychanh, Mr Othong and Mr Maney) some persons around 30-40 years old (Mr Souliya, Mr Bounthavy, Mr Syphone, Mr Saythong, Mr Phomma, Mr Sakounsay and Mr Souney) and some persons very old around 55-58 years old. (Mr Khamsavay, Mr Koukeo, Mr Khamsing, Mr Soutsakhone, Mr Phetmanivone, and Mr Anongsack).
LGTC team has match every Wednesday evening our played at Hakban stadium, Victory stadium and New arena stadium (all around college) with student team from LGTC, team from TVET schools and other teams.
LGTC team is a best of Teacher football teams for college in TVET because LGTC always winner when team had match for TVET football championship and has a gold medal.
I am very happy to join in LGTC football team.
Text by B. Siphonephat
Photos by B. Siphonephat, S. Uhlig; Video by I. Martin