People living here on Phuket island, both Thai and foreign, are passionate about many things! One of the things they are growing more and more passionate about is their local football team FC Phuket, nicknamed The South Sea Kirins.
Founded in 2009 by local government official Paiboon Upatising, FC Phuket’s home is the Sarakul Stadium on the outskirts of Phuket Town. It was their ambition, although possibly a little bit high, to reach the Thai Premier League within the first 2 years. However, in their first season with only 9 points from 14 games, they were back to down to earth with a bump, finishing ninth in the Thai Second Division.
In 2010 FC Phuket turned the table and dominated the South Division of the Regional League and become champions, gaining automatic promotion into the Thai First Division.
Now just over halfway through the 2011 season the team, which now includes a number of foreign players, are in a good position in the top half of the table and automatic promotion to the Premier League is still a possibility.
Coach Sompong Wattana 43 years old
Why do you decide to take the coaching job here at FC Phuket?
I’m originally from the South of Thailand so I really wanted to be a coach in my home region.
When you came to FC Phuket what did you want to improve within the team?
I could see that they need to develop on their personal strength and also needed to learn some new techniques for set plays. The general organisation within the team was quite poor too.
Do you think FC Phuket can still get promotion to the Premier League this season?
That is so hard to guess, but FC Phuket and all the players all have high hopes of being able to play in Thailand’s top league and so do i. I will try my best to do it and make the players improve so we can go up. If we have an opportunity to play in the Thai Premier league it would make Phuket people very happy and also make southern people happy too. So all I can say is I will do my best.
How do you communicate with the players what with them being from different countries?
Sometimes we use transliterated words and most often football words. Some of our foreign players have lived in Phuket for a few years so they can speak basic Thai also.
Who do you admire most as a football coach and why?
Now i would say it’s our new goalkeeper, he is so good! He has good sense, is so dedicated and his complete outlook makes him a great keeper.
No. 5 Wilasroj Janteng Defender 29 years old
Can you tell us why you choose football as a career?
I‘ve played football since I was a child and I really wanted to keep playing.
What is your most memorable experience as a footballer so far?
The best memory for me was last season when I was playing for Pattaya United we finished in 6th place in the Thai Premier League.
Which team did you support when you were younger & why?
If you ask me about international team then Manchester United, If a Thai team then Burirum PEA. I think they do so well with their planning and are so exciting to watch.
If you could play alongside anybody who would it be & Why?
There are so many people I would love to play alongside both Thai and international? But I suppose it would it would have to be Rio Ferdinand. I like his style of play and how he reads the game.
No. 35 Jonathan Matijas Goalkeeper 21 years old (French)
How did you come to play for a team in Thailand?
I was in contact with one FIFA agent based in Thailand and he gave me the opportunity to come and have a trial at FC Phuket. They liked me and i liked the team and here i am now.
How do you think the quality of football compare with that in France?
It’s not the same style of football, but at the end of the day football is football. I think the quality of football here in Thailand is good and is getting better all the time.
Had to been here before playing for the club, what do you think of the island?
This is the first time i have been to Phuket and i think everything here, from football to the people is perfect. Phuket people are great and because i feel so good outside of playing football, it makes me feel so much better on the pitch.
No. 31 Nenebi Tra Sylvestre Central Defender 27 years old (Ivory Coast)
Can you tell me how you feel before playing in a match?
I have to concentrate and focus on the game ahead. For me this is the most important thing before a match.
If you weren’t playing football what would you be doing?
Oh that’s easy, if I wasn’t playing football I would be a top model, sure! (Proceeds to show us his catwalk strut including pose; personally I think he should stick with football.)
If you could play for any team in the world, what team would it be and why?
It would have to be FC Barcelona; they are the best team in the world.
Who do you admire most as a footballer and why?
In my position it has to be John Terry, he is by far the best in that position. But in general it would have to be Lionel Messi, he is the best player in the world.
The team at Phuketindex.com and the growing number of FC Phuket supporters wish them every success with their climb to the Thai Premier League.