Personnel from the United States ships America and Blue Ridge, in Thailand as part of the 2020 Cobra Gold military exercises, took time out from their busy schedule to visit the Father Ray Foundation, as they do each year.
The visits are a time when they get to leave their ship and relax, meet the locals, see the culture of Thailand and at the Foundation it is always a time to play sport, serious sport, Thailand v U.S.A.
While the visitors had all played football, or soccer as they like to call it, the calming game of petanque was new to most of them. It looked easy, the special needs children made it look simple, but then one of the players is national champion.
Meanwhile, the soccer players from the U.S. were confident in winning against a group of small Thai kids with special needs. They did not know that two of the players are in the national Thai side and have played at the Special Olympics.
On the way to the Technological College for People with Disabilities, several visitors boasted at how good they were at basketball, but they soon stopped when they saw the local students sitting in a wheelchair, racing across the court, dribbling and bouncing the ball and then scoring. But to give them credit, the Americans played very well and even managed to score several points.
Sitting volleyball is a Paralympic sport and in a recent international competition most of the Thai team were either former or current students from the college. The Americans did not stand a chance.