On the back of a controversy-ridden 13-0 defeat at the hands of the ruthless United States Women’s National Team last week, Thailand went into their encounter against Sweden with shattered confidence. The South Asian team lost 5-1, which meant that they have already conceded 18 goals in their first two games of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
However, when striker Kanjana Sungngoen scored in the 90th minute in what was only a consolation goal to make the scoreline a tad respectful at 4-1, a woman on the Thailand bench hugged manager Nuengruethai Sathongwien from behind and burst out with tears.
🇹🇭 Nualphan Lamsam: Thai Tears Of Joy #THA general manager Nualphan Lamsam couldn't contain her emotions when her team scored their first goal of the tournament against Sweden having previously conceded 17 without reply 🙏 #FIFAWWC #COPA90Icons pic.twitter.com/UiBKBRt6XD
— COPA90 (@Copa90) June 16, 2019
This woman is Nualphan Lamsam, she largely funds the #THA women’s national team and employs many of the players within her company. This is women supporting women. This is incredible. #FIFAWWC #DareToShine https://t.co/i5l5J7vwP1
— Lindsey Darvin, Ph.D. (@DrLindseyDarvin) June 16, 2019
That heartfelt moment from the Women’s World Cup game has gone viral on social media, with fans lauding the passion of who they thought was a regular staff member of the Thailand women’s team. However, that woman is, without a doubt, the most important figure of women’s football in Thailand. Her name is Nualphan Lamsam, general manager of the women’s team and also its greatest benefactor.
Lamsam, also the chief executive of one of Thailand’s biggest insurance companies, provides massive support to the Thai women’s program. She not only employs the players through her company Muang Thai Insurance but also ensures that the team regularly trains and plays matches so that they do not have to find other jobs.
During the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying, Nualphan Lamsam doubled the bonuses paid to the players to help motivate them for the big tournament. However, as much as she was devastated after Thailand’s humiliation against the USWNT in their opening game, Lamsam was brave enough to lead the players, some of them who were in tears, around the field to thank the travelling supporters. In what was an incredible show of strength, she was the reason the Thailand women’s team could leave the stadium with their heads held high.
Thailand could end their Women’s World Cup campaign on a promising note when they face already-eliminated Chile on Thursday night. And we could definitely do with another one of those rousing team talks by Nualphan Lamsam.