Once a month, when the moon is full and the tide runs out, the boys of Koh Panyee play the game they love.
Thailand, like many countries all around the world, loves the game soccer. I experienced that love firsthand when I visited in 2019. I had the pleasure of playing with some school kids in northern Thailand. After I turned down the coach’s generous offer of using his shoes, I busted open my toe playing in sandals. It is an experience that I will never forget, and not because of the pain in my toe.
This story, The Floating Field, which is true, takes place in 1986 on the island of Koh Panyee, and Scott Riley captures the Thai spirit in it.
The main character, Prasit Hemmin, and his friends all love the game soccer. While reading, you see the resilience of these boys and the mindset that anything is possible. They want to play soccer more than once a month. Undeterred by the fact that every inch of their small island is already covered with buildings, they decide to build their field on water. The boys hammer planks together, paint the sidelines, and raise the goal posts on platforms above the sea.
Scott Riley made his first trip to Koh Panyee in 2018 and met with the bartender at Uncle’s coffee shop. Uncle was around the boys quite a lot. He told his story about the boys and how they built the field and went on to become regional champs in Thailand.
Reading this story made me feel proud of my Thai blood. Between the beautiful pictures and the easy engaging writing style, the book made a very enjoyable read. Each picture bursts with color. This book is exciting for any age from preschoolers to adults. While the original field is no longer there, the Thai government built a new floating field to commemorate the boys of the Panyee football club and their success.