”Where were you last Wednesday? Are you having an affair?”. This is not marital problems, but the conversation in the ‘locker room’ of The Flying Farangs – Bangkok’s very own expat ice hockey team.
The Flying Farangs is an international bunch of guys. Canadians, Americans, Germany and then there is Reine Rauhala a 34 year old Swedish / Finnish player who practices with the others as often as possible.
“I try to get here every Wednesday, but ice time is expensive in Bangkok”, he says. Some seasons ago ice time was what put food on Reine’s table. He was on the Swedish national ice hockey team and has also played professionally in England, Italy and Russia.
Two years ago, he moved to Bangkok and now works as a translator at Bangkok Nursing Home. But ice hockey is still his hobby and he enjoys playing tournaments as he did last month when he exchanged his return ticket to Sweden with a trip to Hong Kong, where The Flying Farangs played an international tournament against other expat teams.
“We had a great time in Hong Kong and the tournament was great”, he says as he gazes at the ice where his team mates are struggling. “We reached the semi finals, but lost to Hong Kong”, he adds proudly.
This Wednesday, a few Thais have been brave enough to join the farangs – some are close to 2 meters. If it is the excessive air con or the fact that nobody is keeping score tonight, only one girl has showed up to see the game tonight. She is cheering on her American boyfriend.
Ice hockey in 40 degrees
“The ice ring is good if you compare it to the Asian standard and it is actually Olympic sixe”, says Reine. He wishes that the ring would be equipped with protecting plexi glass, but he does not complain as he is thrilled to be able to play ice hockey in Bangkok where hockey is not a well known pass time.
The goal of the Farang club is also to attract some attention to the very physically demanding sport. “We are trying to reach out to the Thais and therefore we allow Thais to play with The Flying Farangs”, says Reine and points out that the team also brought some of the best Thai players with them to Hong Kong.
“We are also trying to attract some of the girls for ice hockey. So far there are 3 or 4 girls who play and one of them is actually quite good”, says Reine about ice hockey which he must admit is mainly a man’s sport. “We tend to drink beer at the local Seven-Eleven after a match and some of the talk might not be for the girls”, he says with a laugh.
Looking for Sponsors
In the future, The Flying Farangs will start charge the members, but it is difficult as the income of the players varies a great deal.
“We are also working on getting sponsorships for the club, but so far we have only attracted sponsors for the tournaments”, says Reine. The next tournament is in October, where Flying Farangs will host a tournament with teams from USA, Finland, Germany and Switzerland among others. As usual the financial surplus of the tournament will be given to charity. “We always distribute some of our earnings to causes such as poor Thais or children with HIV”, says Reine.
The Flying Farangs practice every Wednesday at 9 pm at Imperial World, Samrong. Everybody is welcome to join in. The price is 400 baht for 90 minutes on the ice. If you are interested, please contact Reine by email: firstname.lastname@example.org