“Pick up your backpack and leave.” The head coach to the Thailand national football team made such a statement to the press following a professional meeting with The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) in late March. A plan to comprehensively develop Thai football in the long, middle and short term in the new era was devised in great detail. CEO Wittaya Laohakul is tasked with formulating development strategies for Thai teams while the head coach focuses merely on his work training his students.
The powerful duo in developing Thailand in the new era
When Thai football has elevated to a new height, FAT has to upgrade its management and operation to international standards. FAT is not only a social organization but has gradually conducted reforms in the corporate orientation, with key positions such as chief executive officer (CEO) equivalent to association president, General Manager equivalent to technical director/manager, and section head equivalent to head coach, in order to optimize work efficiency.
As for FAT, alongside professional tournaments which bring approximately 70 percent of revenue to the association, national teams are considered a product to help promote the “Thai trademark” not only in the football sector but also in other aspects such as the economy, culture and tourism.
Therefore, when the Thai football team made their way to the group of 12 teams with opportunities to win four or five spots in Asia at the final of the 2018 World Cup, this came as Thai people’s pride. However, so as to help elevate this “performance” to “ranking,” Thai experts and insiders observe that a clear-cut strategy must be in place as soon as the national team and their fans begin to soar.
In his election campaign platform, FAT President Somyot Poompunmuang, former Royal Thai sheriff, adopted the title of technical director/ manager as a “key election ace.” The person selected for the position of the technical director/ manager is Wittaya Laohakul, the Thai footballer who competed and coached at major international tournaments such as the Bundesliga, J-League and the US Student Football Tournament. With his profound knowledge and relationships with international football associations, Wittaya Laohakul is expected by FAT to devise strategies to help Thai football realize its goal of “World Cup Dream.”
The ten strategies to develop Thai football
(http://www.sggp.org.vn/thethao/TTVHQT/2016/3/416083/) also reflect the strategies which the FAT President, the Technical Director/Manager and Head Coach of the Thai national football team have reached consensus on.
However, some remain concerned about the position of Kiatisak, considered the “head architect/mastermind” behind Thailand’s ASEAN dominance over the past three years. Speaking to the press, Coach Kiatisak was at ease: “As FAT already reached a consensus, from now on what we need to do is pick our bags, get on the plane and compete.
Other tasks such as traveling, accommodation and meals and training matches will be taken care of by the association’s specialized sections. I think the coaching panel will have more time to focus on their professional work, training and opponent analysis. The association has also promised to send stronger opponents so that the Thai national team will have more chances to compete against and garner more experience.”
Technical Director Wittaya Laohakul
Technical Director Wittaya Laohakul shared: “In my position, I’m in charge of national football teams, programs designed to develop youth football and the coaching panel and assessing and tailoring the teams’ training curricula.
I’m also the advisor to football delegation heads regarding training and competing programs in specific periods. The technical directors and head coaches of national teams have to partake in Thai coach training courses on a yearly basis to grasp the current situations and reach a consensus on how to develop Thai football.”
Now that the technical directors wield more power, that country’s football will have more fertile soil to thrive. Mr. Wittaya stressed: “If technical directors are well armed with knowledge and expertise to devise a sound direction and suitable playing style for teams in that country to adopt, it would be considerably easier to grow simultaneously. This approach prevents teams from orchestrating their team growth in their own way and starting all over when they move to a higher-rank team.”
Wittaya Laohakul also frankly revealed about the tie between the technical directors and head coaches: “If chemistry and unison are ensured in their jobs, everything will get on smoothly and thrive. The technical directors are supposed to discuss with head coaches issues with clear reasons. Tense disputes are inevitable in the process but all clashes must be finally resolved for the sake of the country’s football.”