Stewart Wells
Stewart Wells
Senior Copywriter
25.11.14

Creativity Against All Odds

In 1986, in a small fishing village in Southern Thailand, a group of boys had a problem to solve.

They all loved to watch football, but not a single one of them had ever played it.

The problem was, their small island home of Koh Panyee was a floating village, built on a network of suspended platforms and stilts. Not a solid patch of grass in sight.

In fact any space, let alone space to play football, was as rare as hen’s teeth.

But nonetheless, the boys decided to form a team.

Where they would practise and play, none of them knew.

They pondered for a while, until one day they had an idea.

For all intent and purposes, their plan was seemingly absurd.

In fact many of the 1,685 villagers mocked the boys, believing that these youngsters could never pull off such a feat. And even if they did pull it off, how could it ever even work?

Their idea: A purpose-built floating football pitch.

They tied together some discarded fishing rafts and spent days nailing down some old wood gathered from around the village to create a playing surface.

Much to the surprise of the rest of the villagers, it worked.

Yes, the ball often fell in the water… and so did the boys.

The boards were uneven and rusty nails protruded from the surface.

But they didn’t care.

They had their pitch.

However, that wasn’t the end of the story. The boys not only had creative minds, they also had ambition.

For months they practised and practised. And actually became quite good.

Then, one day they got wind of a tournament on the mainland and decided to enter.

They made it to the semi-final, narrowly beaten by a last minute goal.

After their success in the tournament, football became the biggest pastime in Panyee. And today, almost 30 years after building their floating pitch from essentially rubbish, Panyee FC is widely regarded as one of Southern Thailand’s best football clubs.

What strikes me about this story isn’t so much the underlying motivational aspect.

It’s the lateral thinking.

Where others saw impossibilities, the boys sought out the opportunities.

And when all logic and reason was against them, the boys were able to find a solution.

It would’ve been easy to accept the obvious, but they refused.

For me, that’s the essence of true creativity.

As creatives, a blank layout pad is the equivalent of a floating village stopping us from playing ball.

But it doesn’t matter what you write down – it isn’t until you start thinking in the right way, questioning logic & reason and searching for the possibilities in the impossible that you’ll come up with ideas anywhere near as impactful as the boy’s rickety floating football pitch.

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