Sports

There Was No Room For Soccer Fields In This City Neighborhood, But They Built One Anyway

by Jon Baum

October 19, 2016

Remember trying to play baseball in your backyard as a kid? Well, unless your dad was Kevin Costner and you grew up on a farm in Iowa, you made do with the space you had.

For many, the baseball—or more likely, Wiffle ball—playing field discussion went something like this:

The stump is first base, this old LIFE magazine is second, that rock is third, and the well cap is the pitcher’s mound. We’ll use the paper plate as home plate. Until a gust of wind, anyway.

Well, that example is being taken to an extreme in Thailand.

(Image via AP Thailand)

Several urban spaces in the densely populated Khlong Toei area of Bangkok are being transformed into some of the oddest and coolest soccer pitches you’ve ever seen. Conceptualized by developer AP Thailand and digital agency CJ WORX, the “Unusual Football Field” project aims to provide local kids spaces to “express their creativity” in an environment which previously had lacked usable open space—and, according to an AP statement, show that “any abnormal space can achieve the highest benefit.”

This spot used to be full of poop and food that people threw from windows.

The partnership identified several locations to develop. They are cleaning up the spaces, some of which have been filled with garbage, and then paving and painting the areas—none of which are rectangular like standard soccer field. One pitch is a trapezoid, another has a 90 degree turn at “midfield,” and yet another is essentially two overlapping rectangles. Then there’s the would-be standard shape pitch interrupted by the outcropping of an adjacent building and another that is vaguely diamond-shaped.

The spaces then are to be opened to the community. What has resulted at the diamond-shaped field is local kids having an outlet to play, and to meet and interact with one another, which wasn’t always happening, despite them living in such close proximity.

(Image via AP Thailand)

“I like it, (as do) my friends,” one local teen says. “We never see each other even though we are in the same flat. But we get to meet when we’re in a field.”

Even if the field is a little trippy.

“This is the first time I have been to a soccer field like this,” another teen says. “First, I thought, ‘How (are we) going to play in this field? The field seems to be twisted and distorted.’ It just felt strange when I got to play. It’s like I get other perspectives and perceptions.”

(Image via AP Thailand)

Local newspaper Khaosod reports that only one of the fields is actually finished, while construction and planning are in progress on at least one of the other fields. Even so, one field continues to have an impact.

“This spot used to be full of poop and food that people threw from windows,” 10-year-old Wiliyak “Pai” Phromjan told Khaosod. Phromjan says he and his friends play on the field nearly every day.

A local adult pointed to the health benefits of providing kids with a place to exercise, as well the benefits of keeping them away from less desirable hobbies, which assuages parents’ concerns.

The fields also have a more abstract benefit.

(Image via AP Thailand)

“This also affects people around this small area,” the local man says. “If we give an importance to some useless space in every area of our life, there will not be such a word as ‘useless.’”

“We hope that other communities will adapt this idea to change their own irregular space,” agency CJ WORK says. “This unusual football field has proven that designing outside boundaries can help foster creativity used to develop these useful spaces.”

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