All power to Pinit

All power to Pinit

By Paul Williams

“Sooner or later we will make change. We will not stop.”

Pinit Ngarmpring

Pinit Ngarmpring

They are strong and powerful words, and the man behind them is looking to topple of one the strongest and most powerful men in world football – FIFA Executive Committee Member, and Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Worawi Makudi.

Relatively unknown outside of Thailand, founder of the Cheerthai Power supporters group, Pinit Ngarmpring is the man in question.

Born and raised in Bangkok and with a strong business background, specialising in marketing and communications, Pinit has seen enough and has nominated himself for this year’s FAT elections.

“I’m not the kind of person that will just wait and see, I need to change things,” he told Asian Football Feast recently.

“I (have) changed small things already, the fans supporting Thailand, supporting Thai football. I now see the bigger problems, (which) is not support from the fans, the fans are ready to support. But the root of the problem is the FAT and that I have to try and change.”

Transparency is the hallmark of any good administration, or at least it should be, and it is an area that Pinit is determined to change should he pull off the impossible and unseat Worawi, mentioning it no less than seven times during our discussion.

“The first thing I would do is lay down a good system for the FAT. System means transparency and that is the first thing, all the accounts have to be shown in public eyes,” he said.

At this stage no date has been set for the elections, and there is still some conjecture over when they will take place. For Pinit it is not an issue, the longer it drags out the more time he has to spread his message to the clubs.

“But I think I don’t mind June or March. June is fine, I have more time to talk to public,” the 45-year-old said.

“Sooner or later people will understand football will change. I have the thought even though I fail this time, next time maybe someone else better than me will want to compete and people will understand. Sooner or later we will make change. We will not stop.”

To win the election, Pinit needs to convince 100 of the 199 voting clubs to vote for him, and to do so he needs to convince not only the clubs but the powerful group of politicians and various levels of government. No mean feat for a humble nominee taking on one of the most powerful men in Thailand.

“I have to convince the club that’s why I organise my bid sooner than the others,” he said.

“I have to play the game a little bit with politics. Not playing that game but I have to talk to them, explain to them what my benefit is in becoming FAT president.

“Even though I don’t like this kind of election much we have to do it and if we have a chance later maybe we can improve it.”

And while it is ultimately the clubs who will vote and decide the election, Pinit is imploring, almost pleading with local fans to have their say and talk to their local club in the hope that people power can convince them to vote for him.

Pinit faces a battle to convince the clubs to vote for him

Pinit faces a battle to convince the clubs to vote for him

“People say ‘OK you don’t have a chance, you can’t fight with all these people’. You complain, you should not only complain you should do something,” he pleaded.

“You talk to your club, if one guy talk to the club and they say no and another guy talk to the club, ten guys talk to the club, they may say ‘yes OK we understand now’.

“Don’t predict the future, you should change the future yourself. This is what I try to communicate with the fans, they have the right to vote, not directly but you have the right to do something.”

This just isn’t “token” bid either; Pinit comes armed with a 10-year plan for Thai football that aims to make it a leading force in Asian football.

“People keep saying ‘when will we make the World Cup?’ I keep saying no way because you don’t have any plan’.

“If you want to go to World Cup in the next eight years, that’s too soon for Thailand. But if you think about 12 years or 16 years you have to start working today.”

Pinit’s plan, a 57-page document that he says is “nothing new”, is separated into four key areas – Management & Transparency, Technical Development, Match Quality and Marketing.

“That (management and transparency) has to come first because we have to win the public support,” he outlined.

“Management and transparency - you have to show off your financial status, you have to show you have good HR, good people to work with you, that you have new regulations to support that goal.”

Like many in Thailand and across Asia, Pinit knows that the local players are talented but the lack of technical development means that talented youngsters just become “normal players”.

Why?

“Because we don’t have good improvement program,” he says.

“If you want to become top three or top five in Asia then you need to have players that play in top league in the world like English league or Spanish league. Then you have to have a program for personal development, you have improve English, improve their personality, mental strength.

“Many Thai players have a trialled with European teams and they fail? Why because they have home sickness, they don’t know how to speak the language, they can’t cope with the strong competition from the other players. This kind of thing we have to think about.

“And from the bottom up we have to have a huge number of huge players. In Thailand we are familiar with taking good players and promoting them. But it’s not the right way. The right way is to promote all youth to play football then we have a good number of players. Then so, so players will become better players, better player will become world class players. We have to improve the grassroots in terms of quantity and quality. This is very important.”

Pinit also wants to map out a calendar of fixtures against nations years in advanced, making better use of FIFA and non-FIFA match days to aid the improvement and development of Thai football.

“We have to plan from now which team we play for the next five or ten years,” he declared

Pinit Ngarmpring - New Life

Pinit’s campaign poster

“We start planning right now for FIFA dates, for non FIFA dates. I break this planning into 3 periods – short term, medium term, long term.

“Short term we need to compete with the teams we can compete with for example ASEAN nations, Jordan etc. And we should also compete with some nations that will help us improve.

“So that means we have to play some better teams. Then we should win or draw, and give us more chance against Japan, South Korea and Australia in the medium term. Then we can (look to) become top three or top five in Asia.”

He was scathing of the recent cancellation of a friendly with the UAE because of apparent VISA issues after the UAE requested the game moved to China.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said in amazement.

“That excuse is unacceptable as a manager or FAT president.

“(If) you don’t plan that is already your fault and when someone offers the game for you and you decline because of this and that, that is unacceptable.”

The idea of not being successful is not one that Pinit is considering. Even if he fails, he still hopes he may succeed in the bigger picture.

“They (whoever wins) may use my plan to change, that would be fine. Or they might take some parts of the plan. That would be fine. Then I will succeed, even if I don’t win. If they take my plan or parts of it then I will succeed,” he said.

Explaining the fight he has in front of him, Pinit used an interesting analogy.

“I will say to the clubs ‘to fight with elephant you don’t need elephants. You need ants’.

“You don’t have to use elephants, because a small elephant could lose to a big elephant. But ants can fight an elephant and tiger. Then I compare myself to an ant. An ant that can become ants. Ants are not afraid of being dead because we have more and more ants.”

And that analogy best describes the challenge he faces – a lone ant against a big elephant.

Whether that lone ant can generate the support to become “ants” and defeat the big elephant will be decided over the coming months.




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