For countries with long coastlines like Thailand, Philippines, Qatar…, playing sports on the beach is not only for fun but also for professionalism in sports development policies combined with tourism.
Unlike some countries, most of them only bring athletes to the beach to compete, at the Asian Beach Games 2016 (ABG5), Thailand and the Philippines have a large team of professional athletes specializing in competition on the coast.
Supitr Samahito – vice president of the Thai Olympic Committee – said beach sports is one of Thailand’s sport-focused forms of development, along with summer sports, winter sports, young sports, student sports, and indoor sports.
Samahito said: “The Thai Olympic Committee sets a sports development plan for every 5 years. The moment we started developing beach sports was when ABG held its first convention in Indonesia in 2008. At that time, Thailand determined that beach sports would later be a professional road and I want to build a team of separate athletes, separate from traditional sports”.
The Thai sports industry clearly determines that beach sports must be true sea subjects that are beautiful and have a distinct technique compared to sports in the home or on the grass. List of these sports includes volleyball, football, rattan, wooden ball, handball, surfing. Even with some subjects like Muay Thai, Thai athletes playing on the beach are also different from athletes competing at SEA Games.
Developed though not long but Thailand’s beach sports soon went up professionally. Samahito said that Thailand’s beach athletes are about 30% of the number of athletes competing in SEA Games and Olympic games. The reason for such a large amount of athletes is because some beach sports have been included in Thailand’s school sports program or in conjunction with other sports academies, such as wooden football. Thailand also has many professional beach sports tournaments, most notably the kabaddi, volleyball, handball, wooden ball and beach rattan games that are put into the national sports festival of Thailand (held every 2 years).
Similar to Thailand, the Philippines is very interested in beach sports and builds a professional athlete training system from school. Among the annual student sports tournaments of the Philippines, beach volleyball is a very popular subject. Nikka Carino, a Filipino volleyball team member who attended the 2016 ABG, said: “I came to the beach volleyball from school and am now about to graduate from a sports college in Manila to become a soccer coach. Professional beach transfer”.