Just how extreme is this?
The only thing more amazing than the rapid development of extreme sports in Thailand is its roots. Thai extreme sports didn’t emerge from grunge culture or a pursuit of hedonism and excess, but from a gauntlet laid down to society’s youth at risk – those dabbling with drugs, underperforming at school or otherwise losing their way. The challenge was for change… The challenge was for greatness.
The man in charge of extreme sports in Thailand is the same man responsible for promoting them here in the first place – Khun Apichat Rutnin, former drugs rehabilitation officer, gymnast, and Secretary General of the Extreme Sports Association in Thailand. To him extreme sports represented an opportunity to challenge rule breakers to push the envelope and in 1994 he scoured department stores and other youth hangouts to invite youngsters to take part in informal in-line skating programs. Whether slum kids or middle-class errant youth, it made no difference – these kids got the right kind of addiction and with it the life changing drive and self-imposed discipline that comes from a passion for something good.
Fast forward to 1998 and the Asian X-games were held in Phuket. Out of nowhere, Thailand established its credentials as an extreme sporting nation and began a series of achievements that saw the country’s extreme sportsmen and women travel the world in pursuit of competition and victory.
Today, the success of Khun Apichat’s programs for the young at risk have guaranteed their continuation, but with 2,000 youngsters on his books, things obviously haven’t stopped there.
“These days our focus has changed,” suggested Khun Apichat. “Thailand’s extreme sportsmen and women are at a level where they are competing with the best of the best. Our emphasis now is on ‘sporting excellence’ – on ensuring extreme sports in Thailand keep developing at the rate they have over the last years. What we need now are people with skills and experience willing to devote their time and energy to help us get to the next level and further.”
And that’s where you might come in…
If you have the skills and experience to offer (and you will know if you are good enough), this is a chance for you to turn your trip to Thailand into a genuine contribution both to extreme sports and the development of Thailand’s youth. You will teach them the tricks you have learned and also pass on English language skills. In return you will learn Thai and get an insight into the Thai way of life few will ever experience.
At this stage the details have not been hammered out, but it might be possible to assist those able to stay for an extended period with visa arrangements, but even a couple of days will do. Although free accommodation won’t ever be part of the package, it may be possible to arrange home stays for those offering training at centers outside Bangkok.
Think about this… does it get much better? At this stage we’d like to hear from people who are planning a trip to Thailand and feel they might have enough to offer to help out. Use the form below to let us know when you might be heading out this way.
Click here to contact the Thai Extreme Sports Association of Thailand.