Ladyboy water-volleyball tourney a huge success


280,000+ baht raised for orphanage and Rotary Water4Life program

Both Buddhism and Christianity share generosity among their basic respective tenets.  So with this in mind perhaps it’s not surprising that someone like me, a local farang expat, banded together with Pattaya’s ladyboys and bars, as well as some local restaurants and hotels to benefit Pattaya charities.

The first Pattaya Ladyboy Water Volleyball Competition, held Oct. 27, was a smashing success, raising over 280,000 baht for the Pattaya Orphanage/Children’s Home Foundation Pattaya (125,000) and the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya’s Water4Life project (100,000) with the balance going to yet another charity when final accounts are completed.

Competing teams pose for a group photo.Competing teams pose for a group photo.

The Pattaya Orphanage plans to put the money raised by the tournament toward much needed repairs of the roof in the orphanage’s school for deaf children; given the severity of this year’s rainy season, the baht can’t come soon enough.

According to Rev. Fr. Michael Weera Phangrak, orphanage executive director, estimates to permanently fix the orphanage roof will cost 300,000 baht (the orphanage has been managing with temporary repairs until now).  About 175,000 baht of this amount is coming in a pledge from the Thai Ministry of Education; the 125,000 baht remainder is coming directly from the proceeds of the volleyball competition.

Father Michael, Director of Pattaya Orphanage (left), receives a cheque for 125,000 baht from tournament organizers.Father Michael, Director of Pattaya Orphanage (left), receives a cheque for 125,000 baht from tournament organizers.

“I have to agree with you, that the Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways,” Father Michael told me when I visited the orphanage recently.  “Just when we were wondering how we were going to cover the budget shortfall for the roof repairs, you come to us with plans for the volleyball tournament.

“It’s a commendable thing everyone involved in the volleyball tournament has done, not only helping us out but also raising awareness of the positive role that ladyboys play in our community,” he said.  “Many might be surprised to know that ladyboys frequently visit the orphanage and contribute what they can to help the children.”

Carl Dyson, President of the Rotary Club Eastern Seaboard (left), is presented with a cheque for 100,000 baht.Carl Dyson, President of the Rotary Club Eastern Seaboard (left), is presented with a cheque for 100,000 baht.

100,000 baht – will help fund the local Rotary Club’s Water4Life program, which provides water filtration systems for rural schools and remote villages.  The Water4Life program’s share of the proceeds will cover water filtration costs for two villages that otherwise wouldn’t have access to clean, fresh water.

Rotary has been particularly supportive of the event right from the start.  In fact its members were among the first to buy tickets to the event and many actually attended.

Why Ladyboy Volleyball? – It is different!

Anaconda face off against Baby Boom in the final.Anaconda face off against Baby Boom in the final.

I came up with the idea for a ladyboy water volleyball competition earlier this year.  I wanted to do something to give back to my adopted home town and country, as well as help change the community’s perception of ladyboys.  I’ve lived here for some years now, and made friends with people from all walks of life – rich and poor, foreigner and Thai, and that includes many ladyboys.

But one thing I’ve noticed is that transgendered women – kathoeys, or ladyboys as most people call them – often face prejudice brought on by stereotypes.  It’s true that Thailand is much more tolerant and accepting of ladyboys than many Western cultures, but they still face a more difficult time in their lives than most people.  Unless their families are supportive and can afford higher education, many have little choice but to work in bars or salons – like many Thai young people they are expected to supplement their family’s income.  The fact that they face this prejudice is a shame, because I’ve found they are just like the rest of us and, are valuable assets to our community.

The champion Anaconda team.The champion Anaconda team.

So when I began thinking about what I could do to give back to Pattaya, I also wanted to do something that would raise the profile of ladyboys and their contributions in a positive light, something that would be fun for everyone involved.  Thus the Ladyboy Water Volleyball Competition was born and thanks to these ladyboys, two rural villages will now have clean drinking water and the Pattaya Orphanage can permanently repair its roof – the children can stay dry while they study!

But it wasn’t just the ladyboys; the entire Pattaya community embraced the event and a good time was had by both spectators and participants, including expats and holiday visitors from abroad, and for that I’m grateful.  I hope we can make this an annual event, raising money on an annual basis for charities here and throughout Thailand.

Forty ladyboys competed in the tournament held at the swimming pool of Areca Lodge on Soi Diana.  The ladyboys came from seven bars around Pattaya including Anaconda (red), Baby Boom (white), Horny Bar (orange), La Bamba (gold), Pook’s (pink) Stringfellow’s (yellow) and TJ’s (blue).  Several competitors also came all the way from Cocktails and Dreams (green), in Phuket, to compete with their Pattaya sisters as well.

The eight teams were divided into two groups/leagues and the winner of each group, based on games won and points, faced off in the final match to determine the champion team.

La Bamba were presented with the ‘Best Dressed Team’ award.La Bamba were presented with the ‘Best Dressed Team’ award.

The Winner of Group A was Anaconda bar; they won all 3 matches in their group.  Cocktails and Dreams made a great effort in Group A but were not able to challenge Anaconda.

The Winner of Group B was Baby Boom after a dramatic round where TJ’s bar needed Stringfellows to beat Baby Boom who also would need to score less than 21 points.  Baby Boom held their nerve and won Group B.

Baby Boom went into a nail biting dramatic final of 3 matches.  After 2 matches it was a draw, but Anaconda, using slam dunk serves, won the final match by the narrow margin of 2 points to become the undisputed World Champions of Ladyboy water volleyball.  This is the first event of its kind anywhere in the world and, as such, should be in the Guinness Book of Records.

Following the final match there was a gala event for participants and attendees with a buffet at the Areca Lodge followed by the awards presentation and auction.

During the awards presentation each of the participating ladyboy teams received a framed certificate of merit, with each frame in their individual team color, to mark their participation in the charity event.  Certificates and the traditional symbolic big checks were also presented by organizers to Father Michael, Director of Pattaya Orphanage, and Carl Dyson, President of the Rotary Club Eastern Seaboard, respectively.

To all the generous sponsors, donors, the restaurants and the hotel, and of course the bars and ladyboys, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks: without all of you, this event not only wouldn’t have been a success, but wouldn’t have happened at all.

If you missed the volleyball tournament, and still want to help, you can obtain more information about making a donation by emailing [email protected].

Ladyboy water-volleyball tourney a huge success