PETALING JAYA, Aug 20 — With their orange robes and shaved heads, three young monks cut surprising figures when they emerged as champions in a recent e-sports contest in Thailand.
The three-player team from Balee Sathit Suksa, a secondary school for novice monks in Nong Khai province, blazed through the 2019 KKU Nong Khai Fair finals playing Speed Drifter, a mobile racing game.
Balee Sathit Suksa academic coordinator and monk Kokkiad Chaisamchareonlap told online portal Coconuts Bangkok that the team had entered the competition on a whim without expectations.
“The novices wanted to try entering the competition, so we gave them that opportunity. We didn’t expect to actually win.
“We wanted to give the students an opportunity. A lot of them don’t have that coming from poor families or broken homes,” he said.
Kokkiad said that the trio was introduced to e-sports through a computer class at school.
He revealed that although Balee Sathit Suksa is attended by trainee monks, religious studies only take up 20 hours of the week with the rest of the timetable dedicated to a normal school syllabus.
A few students took such a liking to e-sports that they began to hone their gaming skills every day.
The Balee Sathit Suksa team are the only squad from a religious school to have won the e-sports championship title at KKU Nong Khai Fair so far.
However, some Thai social media users expressed disapproval of the boys wearing their robes at the competition.
“Usually I don’t make a big deal out of religious things, but I think this is inappropriate.
“It’s not illegal nor is it extreme, but I just feel like the monks should not have worn the robes to compete in the tournament,” said Twitter user ParnkungTH.
Kokkiad was quick to brush off the criticism and said that the young monks should be given the same chances that are afforded to their same-aged peers.
“The novices are just children, like other people their age that need to grow, develop their skills, and explore their interests.”