โดยตลอดสามปีมานี้ เก้านายได้รับรางวัลอันน่าภาคภูมิใจมาแล้วนับครั้งไม่ถ้วน อาทิ Champion U10: 4 on 4 FIRE Ice Hockey League 2020, Champion U10 Bangkok Youth Ice Hockey 2020, Champion U10: Thailand Youth Ice Hockey Championship 2020 (Best player), First runner-up U12: CHIANGMAI ICE HOCKEY CHALLENGE CUP 2019, First runner-up U10: Bangkok Fly Ice Hockey Tournament 2019 (Best player) ฯลฯ
ส่วนแพทริคก็แจ๋วไม่แพ้กัน เพราะรายนี้เดินหน้าคว้ารางวัลมาตั้งแต่ 5 ขวบ ทั้ง Best Defense of Tournament: Thailand Ice Hockey Tournament 2020, Champion U8: Bangkok Fly Ice Hockey Tournament 2019 (MVP of tournament), First runner-up รุ่น U8: WARRIOR CUP ASIA YOUTH ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE 2019 @Kunming Best Forward of Tournament U6: BEACH BASH 2018 และอื่น ๆ อีกมากมาย
Whenever I see ice hockey players in a movie or TV series, I often think of all the motivated Thai ice hockey players who never let the tropical weather stop them from doing what they love. The Thai ice hockey team, with its rotation of junior and senior divisions, has been competing in many international events, effectively putting its name on the map since 1989. Among which are internationally known rising stars, the Ittivorakul siblings.
The first encounter
Unfazed by Thailand’s lack of natural ice and scorching weather, Bangkok Warriors’ Ardchawit ”Kaonine” Ittivorakul and Chanyachart “Patrick” Ittivorakul have been chasing the puck for three years, showing no signs of slowing down.
“Practising or competing, we really enjoy everything about the sport.”
Around three years ago, Kaonine and Patrick, who were 7 and 5 at the time, had their first encounter with ice skating when their mom Nicha – Natenicha Wiwattanapakkakun took them to the local shopping mall rink. Only an hour in, she was told by the instructor that the boys were natural at it and that they should try ice hockey. Patrick almost didn’t get to play because he was too little, but he was so determined that the coach eventually let him. That’s how they both got started in the sport.
It’s all about passion
Playing ice hockey in a tropical country like Thailand comes with a certain set of challenges and limitations which includes climate conditions, athletes’ fitness, and other training logistics like available facilities. This is why the sport can get very costly and is often said to be reserved for the well-to-do. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that many student-athletes also go to an international school.
Nicha told me that passion is the most important thing, and as long as her kids are committed to the sport, nothing is too much of a challenge for her. Besides, it’s gotten a lot easier these days with more and more ice rinks opening up in Chiang Mai, Korat, and Bangkok where two IIHF-standard rinks are currently being built under the project ‘Theater of Dream.’ In fact, the support for the sport has never been stronger with many local clubs pushing for international recognition.
As far as expenses go, parents should definitely be prepared to pay for hockey apparel and equipment. These things can get expensive, especially when kids keep outgrowing their gear. In addition, there are also other costs like training and facilities. Parents and coaches sometimes sell or donate used gear to kids who want to try the sport but don’t necessarily have the means to do so.
“I think it’s worth investing for my kids because I feel that the sport really helps with their physical, mental and emotional development. They’ve learned how to work in teams while also honing their sportsmanship.”
“There’s happy moments and sad moments in ice hockey. After every match, we would sit down and talk about things we could improve.”
Filed with unrelenting determination, the boys’ words reflect their positive attitude, which I think is what’s driven them to not only compete domestically and internationally, but also won best players awards from some of them.
Here are Kaonine’s stats so far: Champion U10: 4 on 4 FIRE Ice Hockey League 2020, Champion U10 Bangkok Youth Ice Hockey 2020, Champion U10: Thailand Youth Ice Hockey Championship 2020 (Best player), First runner-up U12: CHIANGMAI ICE HOCKEY CHALLENGE CUP 2019, and First runner-up U10: Bangkok Fly Ice Hockey Tournament 2019 (Best player).
Patrick’s stats are even more impressive, considering the fact that he’s been competing since he was 5 years old: Best Defense of Tournament: Thailand Ice Hockey Tournament 2020, Champion U8: Bangkok Fly Ice Hockey Tournament 2019 (MVP of tournament), and First runner-up รุ่น U8: WARRIOR CUP ASIA YOUTH ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE 2019 @Kunming Best Forward of Tournament U6: BEACH BASH 2018, to name but a few.
Nicha further added that it’s important for the parents to help their kids cultivate discipline according to their goals. Having chosen sports, our kids might not have time to do kid things. They have to be disciplined so that they can stick to their training schedule. We live in Pattaya and we have to drive to Bangkok every week for hockey practice. After practice, we would rush back home to rest because the boys have to go to their school in Rayong early in the morning. Sometimes they have to miss classes due to competitions. I must thank their school for their continued support and understanding. Apart from that, I also take care of their diet and help them exercise so that they stay healthy and strengthen their muscles.
“As parents, we should forget about our own expectations. Kids will be kids and we shouldn’t expect them to be how we want them to be. Don’t compare them with other kids. Make sure that we teach them sportsmanship and they’ll definitely go far.”
Thai talents are second to none
The brothers had the opportunity to attend a hockey camp with the world-renowned team Toronto Maple Leafs in Canada. It was their first time training and doing activities with pro athletes. They were also invited to play in Chinese, Singaporean and Taiwanese teams, which caused quite a stir in the ice hockey world.
“Ice hockey is a challenge. It taught us cultural differences and how to adjust our playing style to match the coach in each country,” explained the brothers whose goal is to qualify for the national team. As for Nicha, her goal is to be there for her kids and support them as much as she can. Seeing her kids pursuing what they love without her having to pressure them is the most important thing.
A huge thanks to the Ittivorakul family for giving us 2 rising ice hockey talents and for proving that any challenge can indeed be overcome by love and family support.