By John Wellby and Warwick Baglin

On the 23rd of March, the Thailand Tigers had an extremely memorable night at the Spirit of Australia Awards hosted by the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce, receiving the honour of being named the CSR Corporate Champion, an award voted for by the local Aus-Thai business community. This was ample recognition for all the great work the club does by using AFL as a vehicle for change as they grow this great game into communities whilst changing lives of those who really need it.

The Thailand Tigers Australia Rules Football Club was established by a group of Australian expats in 1996.  From modest beginnings the club has flourished and in 2017 the Tigers joined forces with the Duang Prateep Foundation (DPF) and began a highly successful CSR program in Khlong Toey known today as “Communities United by Sport (CUBS)”.  Through this program the Tigers use their connections in the business community to raise funds which are used to support two key items:

  • Scholarships for Tertiary Education for the youth of Khlong Toey (through DPF).
  • Teaching the CUBS participants about the great game of Aussie Rules Football.

Beyond education and football, the Tigers are trying to use its connections in the business community in Thailand to gain support for the program and open opportunities for participants for a life after school.

The program started with 15 males who were 11-12 years of age.  Whilst some of these young men dropped out of the program over time (particularly during Covid) others have been added a core group of 15 young men are now coming to the end of their tertiary education and blossoming into fully fledged footballers.

The CSR Corporate Champion Award won by the Thailand Tigers.

2023 saw the establishment of an U18 women’s program.  12 participants were identified and have been enjoying their time at school as well as learning the skills to play footy.

The football program consists of teaching the participants football and umpiring skills at weekend training sessions followed by matches with the senior men’s and women’s teams.  These sessions are typically run at Thai Sikh International School’s Senior Campus.  The Tigers also run periodic skills clinics within the Khlong Toey community where there has been great exposure of Aussie Rules not just to CUBS participants but to the wider community as well.

The Thailand Tigers actively promotes all members to participate in supporting the CUBS program either at weekend training sessions / matches or in community clinics.  There is a core team of organizers who operate the CUBS program, with member support behind them at each session.

The CUBS football program had some amazing highlights in 2023:

  • A number of boys made their debuts in the Thailand men’s team to take on Malaysia in the annual ANZAC day match in Kanchanaburi.
  • 13 males made their Thailand Debut’s as part of the Men’s Division 3 team at the Asian Championships held in Chonburi.
  • 12 women made their Thailand Debut’s as part of the Women’s 3 team at the Asian Championships held in Chonburi.

Adding to this success, Orapin Arunsawasone (Joy), one of the female participants, applied for and was successful at gaining a three-month internship at Austhai Geophysical (a Thailand Tigers sponsor, and major supporter of our CSR program).  This was a proud moment for all involved and confirmed that we have the program heading in the right direction.

The Tigers have long been a part of the AustCham community and this award will further their relationships with the business community here in Thailand and abroad particularly as they gear up for another successful event management of the 2024 Asian Championships.

The Thailand Tigers scrubbing up nicely at the 2024 Spirit of Australia Awards in Thailand.

If anyone wants to get in touch with the Tigers please reach out via the Thailand Tigers Facebook page.