For some Thailand students in the United States Sports Academy’s year-long sports certification program in sports management and sports coaching, they received an educational experience they will never forget traveling across America from San Francisco to Orlando.

For the sixth consecutive year, the Academy led Thailand sports officials and students on a two-week tour of American sports facilities and programs, including a San Francisco Giants baseball game and tour of the IMG Academies sports training programs in Central Florida.

The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) group gives thumbs up to is tour of the San Francisco Giants ball park.

Arth Nana, a Thailand student who earned his International Certificate in Sports Management from the Academy, reports that he learned a lot about facilities management during tours of the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park, Stanford University’s stadium and the Winter Olympic facilities at Park City, Utah.

Nana, the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand director, says those visits sparked ideas about how to improve the use of the government’s sports facilities found in each of Thailand’s 77 provinces, as well as the 50,000-seat national stadium.

At the sports facilities in the provinces, many of which sit empty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week by his estimates, former Thailand Olympic athletes could be enlisted to teach sport to youth and nearby schools also could be given permission to use the facilities for physical education classes and other events.

Meanwhile, the rarely used national stadium, which is owned and operated by the Thailand government, could start trying to host other events, such as concerts, Nana says.

“We were all very impressed with the facility management and the marketing of the different venues to generate revenue from sporting events and non-sports events,” Nana says. “In Utah, they have even created family-oriented activities. You can bobsled with an athlete and feel the thrill of 80 miles per hour.”

Orasee Jayapoom, who is the Sports Authority of Thailand’s (SAT) Human Resource Department Director and who headed the group of 15 Thais, says one thing that struck her was Americans’ passion for sports. She reports enjoying the coaches training of young athletes at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla.

“Wherever we went, ESPN, Stanford, IMG, they all had great passion for sports and for their work,” she says. “The people we met were very impressive. We need people like that who can develop programs for our Thai athletes.”

In addition, during its up-close and in-depth tour of American sports from Sept. 17-30, the SAT group visited the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney’s All Star Sports Resort. While they were at the Academy in Daphne, Ala., to conclude their tour and receive their certification diplomas, the Thailand sports group took in a Spring Hill College women’s soccer game and Daphne High School football game.

At the Academy, the Thailand students attended a seminar to listen to Dr. Wirt Edwards, the Academy’s Chair of Sports Exercise Science, speak on nutrition, Dr. Conrad Woolsey, Chair of Sports Coaching, discuss coaching and motivation, and Dr. Arthur Ogden, Chair of Sports Management, talk about management in sports.

The Academy, the largest graduate program in sport education in the world, developed a relationship with Thailand more than 50 years ago. The sports university has delivered sports programs and services to 65 countries around the globe. The Academy is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year as one of the first universities in the United States dedicated to sports education. The university has grown into the largest graduate school of sport education in the world.

The SAT is Thailand’s primary sports organization and plays a vital role in developing sport. The Academy offers Thailand students both an International Certification in Sports Management (ICSM) and Sports Coaching (ICSC).

“Our relationship with Thailand is one we truly treasure,” said Academy Vice President and COO Dr. T.J. Rosandich. “We hope they found the tour informative as they traveled around the country. We are pleased we will be teaching in Thailand again next year.”