Delegates from the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) visited United States Sports Academy campus this week on the final half of its fourth annual study tour of sport in the United States.
The Academy has delivered sports programs in more than 60 countries around the world. The Academy has a long-standing relationship with the SAT, sending instructors to Thailand to teach certification courses in the Sports Management and Sports Coaching programs. The SAT is Thailand’s primary sports organization and plays a vital role in developing sport.
Betsy Smith, Associate Dean of Continuing Education, has led 18 administrators from the SAT around the country to observe top sports programs and university facilities in the United States. The tour began in California, where the delegation attended a baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in San Francisco’s AT&T Park on 14 September.
“What impressed them the most about all of the sporting events we attended was that they were family events,” Smith said. “In Thailand, it’s mostly men that attend sporting events with some women and very few children.”
The group traveled to Stanford University the following day and toured the University’s athletic facilities. Stanford, with 35 athletic teams, has won the Director’s Cup for outstanding Division One sports program 16 years in a row. Smith pointed out that the facility for each sport had a wall that listed the Olympians, professional athletes, and the world record holders that Stanford had produced in that sport.
The group spent the last part of the week in Colorado Springs, Colo., touring the Untied States Olympic Training Center Friday and visiting the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) headquarters. The visit was highlighted by a meeting with USOC Chief Operating Officer Norman Bellingham, discussions with Dave McCann, the manager of the Olympic coaching program, and Meredith Miller, high performance director for USA Tae Kwon Do, as well as a tour of the sports performance laboratory given by Dr. Randy Wilbur, physiologist.
The delegates traveled to Mobile, Ala. the next day and attended the University of South Alabama’s football game against Nicholls State.
“They were impressed by the fact that it was a multi-cultural audience,” Smith said about the football game. “And they loved the band. Every time we have people from Thailand here we have to watch the halftime show. In Thailand, they have a band perform before soccer games, but it’s not a marching band.”
After a shopping trip to Foley, Ala. and a visit to Orange Beach on Sunday, the group spent Monday and Tuesday attending seminars conducted by the Academy faculty on sports management, youth sports coaching, sports medicine, and athlete development.
The delegation will spend the rest of the week in Orlando, Fla., for a tour that includes a visit to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex, the United States Slow-pitch Softball Association’s Slow-Pitch Softball World Series, and the National Touch Rugby Competition.
Pictured from left: Regina Hartman, USOC International Relations Coordinator; Ubon Thongpanya; Rutthasreste Pachatikapanya; Wichien Jomprakon; Paitoon Wong-Anukan; Betsy Smith, United States Sports Academy Associate Dean of Continuing Education; Sumalee Vinyuvat, Sports Authority of Thailand Program Director; Vissanu Laichapis; Varunee Pookwanmuang; Norman Bellingham, USOC Chief Operating Officer; Pabhawin Attasilapakit; Sukit Pitakcharoen; Nilmanee Sriboon; Orasee Jayapoon; Tanayod Putthapong; Rashell Daiphontunya; Sayan Makkharom; Phichayavee Panurushthanon; and Satis Seedokbuab.