Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, children of all ages! My-Thai.org is proud to bring to you another unique, fun, and enthusiastic interview. This time I sat down with a Pro Basketball player with big dreams. She’s been playing at college in the states before and now is back on her home turf representing Thailand on an international level while also trying to find the right club for a pro career abroad. She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s a straight shooter. She is Supavadee (Bo) Kunchuan!
Ready? Set. Let’s go! Before we start I usually ask my guests to introduce themselves quickly. So who are you?
My name is Supavadee Kunchuan, Bo, I’m 24 years old, and a professional basketball player. I’m just back from a scholarship in Miami where I graduated and played and am now playing for the Thai national team here. If you want to know more: I’m 1,78m tall and 69kg.
I’ve never been to Miami but when you look at what you can see of it online or on TV it looks a lot like…
Partying :D I didn’t do those crazy things though. I’m rather responsible and focused on studies and playing as my team was really focused so I tried hard to keep up and do my best for the team. No distractions!
Wow. So you’re that responsible? Or are you simply saying that because it’s the right thing to say?
I really feel that way. Over there everybody works so hard to do their job well and to improve. I also like that everybody sticks to their responsibilities and adheres the rules. Everything is so professional all the time, unlike here.
Did the time in the US help to open your mind?
Definitely! I stayed there for two years and it was super hard at first. I felt lonely, I didn’t know the culture….even with training. The coach yelled at me which never happened to me before in my whole life. What was nice though were how the others welcomed me. They were very open and friendly and simply started talking to me without actually knowing me what wouldn’t really happen here for example. So I do like that part of the culture. I also like how they plan ahead and how they think about challenges. When my coach yells at me it is to motivated me, but if that would happen here, people would just get upset and sad and complain.
I also learned not to have excuses all the time. If you’re hurt at your leg, you can still work your arm for example. That’s a mindset I like.
Alright. The part about the excuses and missing discipline….that’s different here in the national team though, isn’t it?
No, not really. However I do try to be some kind of role model right now and show them what I’ve learned abroad in order to facilitate some change here. I can’t change their own attitude, but I can try to lead by example.
How did you actually start with basketball in the first place?
It was by accident. My dad he was a national basketball player as well and my mom she was a national volleyball player. That’s why I got the height. Also my dad was the coach of the Khon Kaen women’s team and one time one of his players was out and he couldn’t figure out where to find a replacement. Back then I was doing Taekwondo and my dad then said ‘Bo, I need you to fill in for the other player’. He then trained me towards that next match. It was planned to only do it for that one match but when I played there, another team saw me and asked me to join them and that’s where it took off from. I then made it onto to youth national team, then, by 18, onto the national team, and so on. So I just keep on going. It’s kind of lucky, but I also have to work for it of course.
Is basketball actually famous here in Thailand? I never see it on TV.
Not really. Also there have been some issues within the basketball federation, corruption, cheating, etc. that prevented it from taking off and now football and volleyball are more famous. We do have good players though, we won at the SEA games, we ranked well in the ASEAN games but then there’s always some drama going on that prevents us from growing together and getting better.
When you’re getting ready for a match, do you have some pre-game ritual, something you have to do or something to get you pumped?
No there’s nothing. Thai culture is really strict so they say if you listen to music before, you can’t really focus on the game. That’s why I never started with anything like that. For myself I think it might actually be able to help to concentrate but we never started that within my teams.
Also somehow Thai people are really quiet when they exercise or do team sports. I don’t know why. When I came back from the US I was cheering and screaming in training but I was the only one that seemed all fired up and nobody responded to my encouragement.
Does your number have any significance for you?
I like the number 8. It resembles the infinity sign which means you can’t stop me.
Wow. That’s #deep! Unstoppable.
Right? Never give up, you can’t stop me!
How often do you have games or tournaments?
Depends on the date. In pre-season there’s nothing, then there are tournaments happening that might last 10 days in a row. So it’s a bit on and off, depending on the time of the year.
How many people are usually there to watch you play?
For women basketball in Thailand….nobody. We don’t really have anyone watching. The men might have a few fans, but we’re usually alone. The men even have two leagues with foreign players, while we don’t have that.
How is it with your coaching team though? Is it all Thai or do you have a diverse team there?
We got three Thai coaches and one American coach who also coaches a men’s club.
When I play at different gyms I sometimes see banners for Jr. NBA events. Are you, or your team, somehow affiliated with such events? Are you also doing something like that?
Those are private events organized by private companies. I would love to do more such things and actually also work together with one company but unfortunately the national basketball federation isn’t doing much in this regard and we have to rely on private organizations to offer such courses.
I think such courses help to gain awareness for the sport and really think there should be more such events happening. The problem is that it’s expensive and that we need sponsors for that as the association doesn’t support those ideas.
Understand. Let’s hope we can find a few interested sponsors here. If someone is interested, shout out and I’ll forward those contacts!
Now let’s dive a bit deeper into your training. Do you have to create your training plan by yourself or do you get everything from your coaches?
Our coach plans schedules and hands them to us. We also have a ‘strength coach’ who does give us some pointers but it’s not like in the US where there’s a sports science coach in charge of that. Here our ‘strength coaches’ aren’t that well equipped knowledge wise. They make us do the same things for three months in a row for example which isn’t ideal. Therefore I do work together with my own strength coach to see improvements.
Is there any kind of exercise that you really hate?
I hate running. I really do. It’s so boring. Sprints are fine but running nine times around some track is just plain boring!
I’m totally on board with that. Running sucks!
It does! It’s really annoying just running with the same speed…I hate it!
What’s your favorite part of practice then?
Playing Basketball! :D Or just doing some game based drills.
Do you have to do some form of punishments in those game based drills?
Oh yeah sure. If you miss a certain amount of layups you might have to do x amount of pushups. Or burpees, or keep shooting until you make it.
What’s your go-to move? What are your strength?
I think I’m very good at the post up as I played power forward and small forward so I think I play well under the basket. I also used to be good at dives but haven’t done that now in a while as I’m taller than most players here and hence usually have to play under the basket.
And which skill is the one you gotta improve the most?
Shooting! ;-) From Mid-range to three point line. I used to be really got at that but ever since coming back from the US I somehow lost it.
That just popped into my mind while thinking about your previous answers: Is there something like ‘streetball’ here? I used to play lots of streetball when I was young and think that really helped elevate the status of basketball back home.
Yes there is. We actually have quite a lot of hoops around the city but somehow the association can’t really work with that. That’s also one thing I want to work on, elevating the status of basketball. But I can’t do it alone. We need sponsors, motivated people, and a good article here to get the word out ;-)
Let’s hope that works. There are so many things one could do if only the support was there.
Oh god yes, I talk with my coach about that all the time. Having basketball camps, events, schools, etc. If only support was there to help us.
Really hope that will change and you’ll find that support. Sponsors listen up!
Before we finish with final thoughts a quick question about your nutrition. How do you manage that?
I do that by myself. There’s no sport science coach behind it, I’m just controlling myself and try not to eat to unhealthy. Trying to avoid the really bad food. Ever since coming back from the US I was just eating Thai food now all the time.
What’s your favorite / go-to food?
All of them! ;-) There are so many. It’s all so good and I missed it in the states.
Got it! Is there something that you miss from the states though too?
I miss my friends, the atmosphere, the training. I miss the overall feeling that I had over there, the openness, the coaches.
What’s your plan now? What’s next?
I would like to become a professional basketball player abroad. It’s really difficult though as I don’t have any connections to any team and connections are really important. When I was in the US I asked my coach if I could make it into the WNBA and she said sure, if I got the right connections. I received an email from them once, but nothing came from it. I don’t have an agency or anything right now so I would need to find a team by myself and approach them by myself.
Before I came back to Thailand I went to a try out with some coaches who looked for players. Now I’m still waiting for feedback from that event. I got an invitation from a Puerto Rican club but I’d rather go to Europe or the US so I’m still waiting and keep trying by myself. I’m just a bit tired of it now but can’t stop now and have to keep going.
Moreover I’m planning on doing my Master’s while continue to play Basketball.
Is there something that Basketball taught you for life?
A lot! How to work with different kinds of people, how to develop a work ethic by yourself, responsibility towards yourself and others, understanding different cultures and that you have to work for what you want to achieve. So Basketball really helped me a lot and made me a better person, not only on the court, but also within society.
Coming close to an end so now it’s time to let us know your further hidden talents. What else do you like to do?
I’m super active, so I can’t just stay still. I really like ice skating, it’s my favorite sport outside of basketball. It’s so much fun.
No pressure, but now it’s time for your famous last words
Keep pushing yourself! Don’t stop to work. If you keep pushing, good things will come to you. Keep working hard. Don’t be satisfied with what you have and trust yourself, keep having faith in yourself.
So to summarize: Keep the faith & work hard to make your dreams come true.
That’s it for now. Thank you Bo for your time! If you liked what you read, follow Bo on Instagram and show her some love over there.
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