Thailand’s national handball team has appointed Danish national Mr. Carsten Carlstedt as its new chief coach. With over 25 years of experience in coaching, Carsten hopes to take the team to the next level.
Founded in Denmark, handball is one of the most popular sports in Scandinavia. Though the sport is not as well-known in Thailand, it has increased in popularity over the years. As Denmark is among the top teams internationally, Thailand has been after the Danish style of playing handball and employed many trainers from Denmark in the last decade.
In October this year, Carsten Carlstedt was appointed as new chief coach for Thailand women’s national handball team. He believes in the team’s potential and hopes to develop it further.
“Thais can do Thai boxing because they are quick and tough. I think they also have talents for handball. I’d like to motivate the association to make a long-term plan. Why not talk about participating in the Olympics one day. If South Korea can do it, Thailand can do it too,” says Carsten.
To achieve that, however, Carsten says that Thailand has to beat Vietnam and be number two in the Asian Cup before 2016. That’d be a reasonable goal, he says.
Coaching to connect
Carsten served the royal Danish Air Force for many years in Denmark. Due to the nature of the job, which meant he had to move around to many places, Carsten saw coaching as a quick way to integrate into new communities.
“It’s a shortcut to connect with people where I go. Handball is exactly the same size everywhere, and the game spirit is the same wherever you are in the world. I have a passion for that,” says Carsten.
Coaching since the age of 20, Carsten has over 25 years’ experience of teaching handball. For the Thai team, he aims to develop both individual member’s skills and the team spirit.
“I want to help each player reach her personal goals. And I want them to play well together as a team,” says Carsten.
Carsten also plans to further continue what the former coach has built. Among the challenges that he has learned is the Handball Association of Thailand’s lack of structure and a long-term plan.
“The system here is different. The team is trained just for the next championships. It’d be nice to have a two-year plan. We need a structure here like in Europe,” says Carsten.
Moving to Thailand
In the beginning of August Carsten moved to Thailand with his wife, who was offered a job as a consul at the Danish Embassy in Bangkok.
“We chose to come here because we love Thailand. We like the climate and the food here. Actually we have been here on vacation many times before,” says Carsten. “But I told my wife I needed to get a job so I contacted the handball association in Thailand and they told me that the former coach’s contract would finish in the end of September.”
Before taking up the new position in October, Carsten joined the training camp in Chiang Mai with the team for ten days in September to get to know the team’s members and their practices.
Looking into the cultural differences, Carsten reveals that he favours the sport culture in Thailand.
“There are many rules here that don’t exist in Europe. For example, when the match is over players of each team would change their places and go say thank you to the other team’s coach. That’s very nice. Players here also respect a referee’s judgments. I like that,” says Carsten.
Periamma – supporting local communities
Besides coaching, Carsten is Country Manager in Thailand for Periamma – a Danish initiated NGO organisation aiming to support learning and unlock the potential in children, families and communities in developing countries. The organisation operates in India, Uganda, Kenya and Surin province in the Northeast Thailand.
“The chairman of Periamma knew that I was moving here so he asked if I could be a country manager in Thailand. I work for them for free. The only things they support me with are transportation expenses and bed & breakfast when I go to Surin,” says Carsten.
Carsten has a picture in his home of a little girl having lunch at one of the Periamm-supported schools in Surin. “Look at this girl, this picture made my day. She’s a poor girl but she looks happy here because she got lunch at school,” says Carsten. “This is worth working for.”
In Surin, Periamma cooperates with the local society and works to support schools and children from poor families.
“To prevent poor families from sending their girls to work in tourist areas, we aim to support children to study and finish their education. If they have good education, they can fight better for their future,” says Carsten.
At the moment, Periamma generates income from two sources; a parentship contract from Denmark and sponsorship from companies. Through the parentship contract, a student is supported by a Dane or a family in Denmark who sends money every year for school uniform, tuition fee, and other fees for participating in educational projects.
“We work with many schools in Surin. Currently, we support 13 schools and there are 112 children sponsored by Danes in Denmark,” says Carsten.
Looking for sponsorship
Carsten is working to get in touch with Scandinavian companies in Thailand, to get their support for local school projects such as renovation of buildings, installation of water pumps, making new toilets and so on. Though money is the main essential, interested companies can also support Periamma with all kinds of learning materials.
“In India, Microsoft supports the project with computers for local schools. Another example is ‘Lego learning boxes’ which Lego specifically made to help teachers teach English at local schools,” says Carsten.
Carsten also promotes Periamma’s projects in Surin on social media. One of his goals is to have 1,000 followers on Twitter in the next few months.
“I want the world to know about our good activities in Surin. Small profits from a company can make a difference here,” says Carsten.
Carsten plans to organise an event in November to gather Scandinavian companies and people who are interested in supporting Periamma’s projects in Thailand. If you are interested in participating, please visit www.scandasia.com for updates.