Ice Hockey in Thailand?

Ice Hockey in Thailand?

15 Feb 2011 | Henrik Lundqvist

Is ice hockey played in Thailand? Sure! The national team finished second in the Premier Division of the 2011 Asian Winter Games. talked to Thailand´s big star Likit Neimwan-Andersson about the Asian Games and the hockey in Thailand.

Likit Neimwan-Andersson, who also is a Swedish citizen and a very experienced professional player, is a key player of the national team of Thailand. Along with Kim Aarola he is the only player of the national team with experience from other than the domestic league. Neimwan-Andersson has played in ECHL where he also got to play the All-Star Game 2001. He has also experience from Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Italy and Denmark. And of course Sweden, where he played in Division 1 with Borås and Mörrum. He also got to play a couple of games in Elitserien with Frölunda during the 2004-05 season.

In the 2011 Asian Winter Games in Kazakhstan, Neimwan-Andersson played all 6 games and scored 8 goals and 9 assists when Thailand captured the silver medals. The team lost the opening game to Kyrgyzstan 4-15 but then beat Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mongolia and United Arab Emirates.

After the tournament got an interview with him:

Q: You finished second in the Premier Division. Congratulations! Is that what you had expected?

A: Thank you. I am very happy with a silver medal, but we were hoping to win the gold medal after what we knew how the group was by the ranking system they have from IIHF.

Q: Kyrgyzstan dominated the division. What did you know about them before the tournament?

A:  Yes we didn´t know anything about this team, because they made their entrance only 2 weeks before tournament when India and Qatar could not make it. They haven´t either played any games before against any of premier group members. Kyrgyzstan had 2 lines of players who had been playing in the Russian second league. And passports had been made the last 6 month by people doing research on them.

Q: Which style of hockey does the Thailand national team play?

A: We play a fast skating hockey with a lot of puck movement.

Q: How is your experience from the Asian games, besides the games?

A: It has been an amazing experience for me and the guys. It was my first big event in my life and I can only compare this event with what I have seen on TV from the Winter Olympics.

Q: What is up in the future for Team Thailand? Will you continue to play?

A: We are now focusing forward towards the yearly Asian Challenge Cup, which is going to be held in Kuwait in April. And we will work hard to win this tournament. So we can get the chance to qualify for the C-World Championships. And I will keep playing for sure for some more years.

Q: Ice hockey in Thailand is unknown for most hockey fans. What can you tell us about it?

A: Ice hockey in Thailand has existed for 20 years, but has never been taken seriously before this Challenge Cup of Asia started for 3 years ago. Thailand has a league with 4 teams right now. And have about 300 registered hockey players. There are 3 ice rinks where you can play ice hockey. And 3 ice rinks for public skating and figure skating. One new ice hockey rink will be ready in Bangkok in the end of the year 2011.

Q: You are a very experienced professional player? Why did you choose to play for the Thailand national team? Aren’t you too good for this level?

I have been having a long and great carrier playing hockey as professional ice hockey player. And now I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to help other young hockey players from my original country to become professional hockey players. And it is a big honor for me to be here in this moment and be a player/coach for the National team when I still feel I can perform the best ice hockey I can for my age of 37. Ice hockey has been developing a lot in Thailand. And I feel I can not be too good for a National team game.

How is the hockey in Thailand financed?

The National team of Ice hockey doesn´t have much support from anywhere. So I started a company who will contact businesses for sponsorships and arrange Ice hockey schools and sell Reebok Hockey equipment in Southeast Asia. And hope to help develop and make ice hockey more popular with producing a Hockey magazine for this region. So any kind person with a big ice hockey heart who want to support this. Please contact me.

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