Sports day here is a big deal and though the sports are important, it’s also the procession and opening ceremony that are exciting to watch too.
During the week, since I work at a private school, no English lessons were cancelled (Many other schools, mainly local ones, closed for 2 or 3 days for sports day preparations.) However students were constantly taken out of my lessons to run races, sew costumes together and learn dances.
Sports Day at Srisawangvong School was held on a Saturday and we were told to be at school for 7.30am. I was a bit disgruntled at having to be up so early on my day off until I got there and realised most of the students had been told earlier times than us and had probably been up since 4am having makeup, hair and costumes done!
When we arrived at school the students were being put into order of the convoy that would be walking from the school to the stadium that was about a 20 minute walk away. Bearing in mind it was 8am by this time, it was already boiling hot and most of the girls had such elaborate costumes on with high heels and some batton twirling that this was not an easy task. Also the parade was very long, with all the students involved and teachers and parents too.
The 4 school team colours were purple, orange, green and pink. Bright colours and to me the school looked like a walking packet of skittles. Students had been creative and made costumes and banners and flags and posters relating to their teams. So for example team Green held up banners promoting recycling and the girls were dressed up with huge peacock feather head dresses.
Many of the boys were in the band at the front who drummed the beat that everyone marched along to whilst policemen shut off half the road so it was safe for everyone to join in with the parade. The English teachers were asked to join the end of the parade, and whilst some did I got on my scooter and went round to the stadium so I could catch everyone coming in.
When the parade got to the stadium they marched around the track then onto the field, where they stood for over an hour as the Opening ceremony began. Everyone rose as the Kings anthem played and the Thai flag was put up. Then the Mayor of Hat Yai did a speech and one of my students ran round the track with a lit baton and set the huge bowl at the top of the stadium alight. It was honestly like a mini Olympics! Unfortunately 2 hours or more in the heat with no water was too much for some of the students and 6 of them fainted throughout the opening and were taken to Medic room. Following this the Anubans (nursery students) took over the field and did a dance with ASEAN flags, that was just adorable, and then all the Pratoms (Primary) children did a dance too, which was also great!
After the Opening ceremony finished the students made their way to the seats so they could sit in their colours, once again drumming and singing began as they got excited for the races and prize givings, willing their teams to win. Also there were cheerleaders for the teams all dressed up and doing dance routines too. It was very festive and energetic.
Finally at about 10am the games began, starting with a sack relay race, as students passed the sack to their parents and then the teachers. I think team Purple won this one and there was a long time spent giving out medals and posing on the podium.
Shortly after this we left as by this time the heat was crazy and my face was already burnt red but it was a fabulous colourful morning!
Photos of the parade below;