Pride of the nation
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Pride of the nation

Our national athletes competing in the 32nd SEA Games deserve a big round of applause. Their performances and sportsmanship in Phnom Penh have brought us pride and joy.

The only mishap was a brawl during the final of the U22 football competition between players and coaches from the Thai and Indonesian teams on Tuesday night.

Thailand finished second in the overall medal tally after Vietnam. Yet the impressive performances of rookies in the female volleyball, badminton and tae kwon do teams speak volumes about the promising future of Thai athletes in these sports at the international level.

Thai athletes pocketed gold in many sports, including women's water polo, women's cricket, track-and-field and judo. The government must invest more to help them improve and compete on a global level.

About those fisticuffs on the football pitch.

Indonesia won the game with an impressive score of 5-2, but for many spectators, the lingering memory will be not their win but the fighting that unfolded.

Hopefully, the Thai national team has learned its lesson and will get the chance to fix its image. Our coaches must train their players on both the technical side of the game and the merits of sportsmanship -- especially when it comes to controlling their temper both on and off the pitch.

Never forget, sport is not only about winning; it is about inspiring young people and imbuing them with values such as discipline, perseverance and fair play.

Buoyed by the encouraging achievements of our national athletes, the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) is now eyeing the next SEA Games -- to be held in Bangkok, Chon Buri and Songkhla in December 2025.

It is good to hear SAT governor Gongsak Yodmani saying Thailand will not have to build new stadiums or athlete's villages for the games and that money will be spent refurbishing existing venues and bringing people to participate in the tournament.

To encourage people to watch more sports, the SAT in April launched an app called T Sport 7 to provide people with a free-of-charge sports channel.

That is a good move, but far from enough. The SAT must also fix problems to ensure the money provided to athletes and sports associations is both transparent and well spent. A few months ago, some sports associations launched complaints against the SAT for delaying disbursing their budget, which they said had affected the training of their athletes.

The sports-promoting body must invest more in our athletes and personnel in the industry. In terms of viewing sport as a form of soft power, the government must not be content with capitalising on Muay Thai alone.

Sepak takraw, or "kick volleyball", which is famous in a number of Southeast Asian countries, has the potential to become the next "soft power" cultural export or highlight of Asean's sporting heritage.

More importantly, the sport-promoting body has the task of making Thai people, especially young people, love and play sports -- starting by providing them with "enablers" at the level of local communities and schools.

Bear in mind that sport is not only good for our mind and body. It provides many benefits -- bringing people together, helping children's development, boosting the economy, and even serving as diplomatic glue.

It is a time for the government to put sports promotion on its agenda. Our athletes -- despite all the odds and scant support from the government -- have brought pride to the nation. It is time they got better treatment.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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