When we think of sports day, we think of getting the children lined up and running in an egg and spoon race, trying not to let their eggs fall. Or tying two children’s legs together for the three legged race! Well not in Thailand! Sports day is nothing like that at all. Its an event, a huge event, booked in a grand stadium with 3 different teams all competing against each other.
Yes, Sports day was not what I imagined, although this is Thailand so I knew it would be an event of some sort! The location of the event was being held in the main stadium at Chiang Mai University! When we arrived I couldn’t quite believe the size of the stadium! There were banners all around, children wearing their brightly coloured tops and others practising their cheer leading performances!
Huddling around with a group of other teachers in temperatures as low as 12 degrees, we posed for a photograph and I was off to find my students. Finding them running around so excited for the day, it was lovely to see how much fun it was being out of school for the day.
Just like the Olympics but on a much smaller scale, we had to parade around the whole stadium in our teams. Waving flags for different Asean countries, cheerleaders at the front leading the way, the kids were all very excited!
A marching band played the Thai national anthem whilst we all faced the sun to watch the flag being raised.
We took our seats, I was part of the yellow team! Watched an awesome dance performance by the older Korean students and a few other dances and shows to get the teams and onlookers all warmed up for the race.
Running races were to start, each race had finished before I could even recognise which of my students were taking part! The cheering was pretty much non-existent, the weather had heated up by that point so everyone was pouring with sweat being directly in the sun.
Next was the relay race with a baton, in which every child in the school got to take part. I saw the children from my class running to their parents to show off their medals, having just stood on the podium in their winning positions. It was a very proud moment being a Teacher! One of my students wasn’t given a medal even though she came third place, so I had to sneak around trying to find a spare medal for her, so was so happy when she received it!
The day was long, there was a lot of waiting around for dances, performances and races to start. I managed to go out for my lunch for an hour which was a nice break away from the heat and the chaos.
In the afternoon the secondary students and teachers were moved inside to watch the chair ball and basketball matches. I had never heard of chair ball before sports day, its not a sport in England. One child from each team acts as the goal keeper I guess, they each stand on a chair holding a basket and their team has to shoot the ball into the basket. I’m not entirely sure who created the sport, but with chairs repeatedly breaking beneath the students, I’m not sure it was as well thought out as it could of been. Maybe that’s why it isn’t a sport in England!
The supporting teams had significantly reduced in size by this point, with still 3 hours to go. We continued to watch and support our teams, all of my class has gone home by this point. Right at the end, the winners were announced and the medals were given. I was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t have a medal to take away myself if I’m honest. Maybe I’ll try and sneak another spare when were back at school!
All in all, it was a very grand event and an excited day for the children taking part. Maybe it was a much bigger event than necessary but this is Thailand after all. We even got some team photos at the end to prove we were there!