In 1933, following the death of her husband, Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, and a democratic revolution that overturned the monarchy in Thailand, Princess Srinagarindra (1900-1995) (given name: Sangwan) and her three children moved to Switzerland. In 1946, her second son was invited, by a unanimous decision of the Thai Parliament, to accede to the throne as King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) of Thailand, making Princess Srinagarindra “Queen Mother” or “Princess Mother” of Thailand. She continued to live in Switzerland, visting Thailand occasionally, until 1964, when, at the age of 64, on a trip to rural Thailand, she discovered the extreme poverty of rural Thai life. It was a life-changing experience. She began a career of working to improve the lives of the Thai people in many ways — a career that ended only with her death in 1995.
During her long residence in Switzerland, she had discovered pétanque. She was an athletic person, and it is said that she played pétanque almost daily until well into her nineties.
In the 1970’s she introduced pétanque into Thailand, and encouraged playing of the sport at public schools nationwide and the creation of petanque teams for the police, army, and civil service. As a result, pétanque is now played more widely in Thailand than even in France. It is a mandatory part of Thai military training.
Today Thailand boasts 80,000 competitive pétanque players, and is a world power in the field of petanque.
In 1997, two years after her death, the Asian Petanque and Sports Boules Confederation was established. Thailand, along with Vietnam and Laos (two former French colonies), was among its important founding member nations. Today its member nations include Cambodia, Singapore, Pakistan, Iran, Japan, India, and Indonesia.
La Franc boules — the least-expensive line of FIPJP-approved competition boules, are manufactured in Bangkok, Thailand by the FBT Sports company. One of the few manufacturers of officially sanctioned pétanque boules outside of France, FBT (www.fbtsports.com) is also known for its excellent sportswear.
30 thoughts on “History of Thai Petanque”
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