You might not have heard of Ko Panyi, although from the name you might hazard a guess that it is in Thailand.
The village of Ko Panyi is different from other villages in that the fishermen live in houses built on stilts. All 1700 or so of them floating on the water.
History of Ko Panyi
Ko Panyi was originally settled by nomadic Malay fishermen who due to the laws of the time could not own, or build houses on land. No land, no problem, they built their houses on stilts at the end of the 18th century and have been there ever since.
And what about the floating football pitch?
The legend goes that after the 1986 World Cup, made famous by cheating hand of god of Maradona, the local kids salvaged wood, old boats, you name it and built a wooden pitch (on the water). They then managed to come second in a regional football tournament and decided to build a “proper” pitch and form a club.
Panyee FC are now one of the most successful youth soccer clubs in Southern Thailand, with the boys who built the pitch back in 1986 now grown men cheering on their kids.
Amazingly they have 7 southern Thai Youth championships under their belt. Suffice to say that in Ko Panyi, football is a big deal. Not bad for a bunch of kids mostly playing on a floating pitch.
The floating pitch tourist attraction
Nowadays the whole village caters more to tourists than fishing. It has souvenirs, shops and even a few restaurants as rest stops from Phuket.
Most importantly though, you can still visit and play on the old floating pitch. However, be sure not to be the twat who toe-punts the ball far out into the water and has to go out swimming to get the ball back. No one wants to be that guy.