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It’s induction week at the International Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The ceremony is Saturday. Six inductees will join the previous 161 players, coaches, administrators and leaders from 25 countries who have already been enshrined in the museum at the birthplace of volleyball. We have stories on all six, continuing with Shanrit Wongprasert of Thailand:
How far has volleyball come in Thailand? Just look at who did NOT make the direct entry 12-team main draw for this past August’s prestigious fully-loaded Beach Pro Tour Elite16 Hamburg.
Olympic medalists Laura Ludwig, Chen Xue, Anouk Verge Depre and Joana Mader were relegated to the qualifier. Meanwhile fully half of the main draw constituted teams from beach royalty, Brazil and the USA. But who else made it into that main draw looking like party crashers?
Thailand’s Taravadee Naraphornrapat and partner Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee, that’s who.
Much of this sort of advancement in both the indoor and beach versions of the sport in Asia in general, and Thailand in particular, can be attributed to the impact of Shanrit Wongprasert, the first International Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee to ever come from the Southeast Asian country
“I was so surprised because I never thought that my volleyball voluntary work would be recognized by the International Volleyball Hall of Fame,” Wongprasert said.
“It is the greatest honor of my life.”
Wongprasert has done everything in his life at a high level.
Born on December 16, 1943, in Ban Pong District in Ratchaburi, Thailand, the 79-year-old started playing in a nine-man system in middle school as a digger of the third row. In high school, in a more traditional six-player configuration, he was an outside hitter. While on the Thai national team Wongprasert was a setter.
Having sufficiently caught the volleyball “bug,” Wongprasert stayed in the sport, becoming at first a coach, at the university, club and finally women’s national-team levels. But it is as an administrator where Wongprasert has made such an enormous impact.
Consider he has been anointed as Honorary Life President of not one, but two organizations, the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) and the Thailand Volleyball Association (TVA).
The reason for all of these accolades? Wongprasert in his various roles helped develop volleyball in Thailand from a “few local championships a year, with few spectators, and few sponsors, to become THE sport with a lot of championships more than 320 days a year,” he pointed out.
Those competitions start with the under-12 age cohort all the way up to professional leagues, as well as continental and world level with capacity crowds at every turn.
Wongprasert’s administrative career began as the secretary general of the TVA for 30 years upon the completion of his coaching career. In that time, he served with six presidents, but he was the one constant that they could all rely on. His work in Thailand was recognized by the global movers and shakers early on, and in 1992 the FIVB named him to its board of administration. Meanwhile, if that was not enough, in addition to his volunteer work with the TVA and the FIVB, Wongprasert served as the secretary general and vice president of the AVC.
Perhaps Wongprasert’s biggest contribution was his generosity in sharing his vast knowledge with other Asian confederations, helping them with their programs, both in national team development, and the conduction of zonal and continental championships. His unique ability to collaborate and coordinate with other federations facilitated the spread of zonal and continental championships.
Four years ago, when he was 75, Wongprasert decided to step away from all of his responsibilities. But he could not reject the overtures of the AVC president who named Wongprasert to the executive director position, as well as that aforementioned Honorary Life President position.
In a career that has not been short of accomplishments, in 2019, Wongprasert was awarded the Olympic Council of Asia’s Merit Award for his outstanding service to the development of sports in Asia.
Wongprasert has left the volleyball in excellent shape in his native country.
“I have confidence that the long-term permanent project which I created for volleyball in Thailand will continuously develop volleyball in Thailand to the continental and world level, Wongprasert said.”
That may become apparent as soon as the Olympics in Paris next July. While Thailand’s indoor teams have never qualified for an Olympic Games, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the aforementioned Taravadee Naraphornrapat and partner Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee may rep the country on the sand in Paris.
That would be something and certainly a coda to the legacy of Shanrit Wongprasert.
Look for one more story on Olympic gold medalist and four-time Olympian Phil Dalhausser (United States, beach male player).
Click here for ticket information and if you won’t be at the ceremonies they’ll be streamed at IVHF.org