Donate to help children in Gaza →

How Win Is Following His Dream of Becoming an Athlete

Win - Thailand - Image 1 - Web Hero.jpg

"I will never give up until I reach my dream."

Win stands next to his father on the sidelines of a football pitch. They’re laughing and talking and Win, 18, smiles as he runs back out onto the field to join his teammates. Win loves being on the football pitch. Immersing himself in the game has helped him remain hopeful as his family deals with the challenges that come with living as refugees in Thailand.

Win’s family is one of many who have migrated to Thailand from Myanmar and now reside in Suanploo, an impoverished neighborhood in Bangkok that’s home to many immigrant families. Win’s parents make their living selling food. To help out, Win works before and after school. The long days leave Win feeling overwhelmed by his responsibilities, and with little time for himself or to play with other children.

Win dreams of being a football player one day, even though it seems impossible.

Win - Thailand - Image 1 - Web.jpg
Bangkok is densely populated, and many immigrants flock there for work. Accessing social support and infrastructure can be challenging.

“I used to be nervous when asked to participate.”

Win describes himself as a shy child. Throughout his early school years, whenever his teachers called him to answer a question or step forward for an activity, his hands would shake, and he’d resist.

But when he was on the football pitch, he felt completely different. He felt skilled and confident. And he dreamed of being able to turn his love of sport into a job that could improve his and his family’s life.

Though he loved being on the field, Win’s school couldn’t afford to offer football as an activity for students, and there was no purpose-built soccer pitch in the neighbourhood or equipment children could use. Though he loved playing, Win became frustrated with the poor conditions. Playing barefoot on the street hurt his feet and damaged his shoes. He started to wonder what the point of playing was, if it only brought him pain and frustration. Feeling hopeless, he quit.

Win - Thailand - Image 4 - Web.jpg
Win’s father has been supportive of his dream of playing football professionally, encouraging him not to give up. His parents support him in any way they can, including by buying him new shoes and helping him to practice.

Standing Side By Side to make a change

In Thailand, Right To Play and the Liverpool Football Club (LFC) Foundation partnered up to create the Side by Side programme, which creates safe play spaces and trains Junior Leaders to lead sports and play sessions for their peers in those spaces.

When Win heard about the programme, he couldn’t believe his ears. It was exactly what he’d been hoping for. A football field was built at the school, and Win jumped at the chance to get back on the pitch. He started feeling more confident again and began training as a Junior Leader.

As he became more confident in his ability to lead, he started gathering students his own age in the school’s field and running them through football drills. It gave him the chance to practice his own skills and support others at the same time. He also began sharing his experiences to inspire them to stick to their dreams.

“We support each other,” Win says. “We must fight and keep trying. No one wins and loses all the time.”

Win - Thailand - Image 3 - Web.jpg
As part of his Junior Leader role, Win has learned about sports conditioning and healthy lifestyle habits that are necessary for athletes to succeed. He shares his knowledge with his peers.

“I know how to pursue my dream now.”

Training and playing with others helped him find his confidence and learn to believe in himself. He started doing better at school, forming stronger relationships and pursuing his dreams.

Win is now in his first year of college and practices football in the evenings. His team recently won a championship hosted as part of the Side by Side programme.

His parents, always supportive of his aspirations, attend his games and practices and are proud of how their son has not just become a great player but a stronger, more confident young man.

“Thanks to Right To Play and my community coaches, I learned a lot. I know how to pursue my dream now,” he said. “I will never ever give up until I reach my dream.”


About Side By Side in Bangkok

The LFC Foundation and Right To Play are working Side by Side, using the power of sport and play to help vulnerable children in Bangkok, so they can learn, lead, and succeed. Two innovators and leaders in the fields of sport and play, we’re working together to bring insights and expertise to create and implement high-impact programmes that protect, educate and empower children and support them to overcome adversity and thrive.

In 2022, Right To Play received the 'Grassroots Award 2022' from the Football Association of Thailand for our work in cultivating a love for football among children and young people through the Side by Side programme in the country.

Side by Side programmes in Bangkok are being supported by Project Partner DKSH. DKSH is the leading Market Expansion Services provider with a focus on Asia and have supported Right To Play’s work in Thailand for over 13 years.