As previously reported here, there is a growing clamour for the stadium to be named after the founder of Chiangrai Hills, one Count Gerry Van Der Straten-Ponthoz.
We recently caught up with Count Gerry who was working alongside the building team to take a look at the stadium and talk about when it is expected to be complete.
Originally the stadium was expected to be completed and ready for full use in March just passed, but due to unforeseen circumstances January 2012 became the new target.
Good recent progress means that October of this year is now a real possibility but even if it is completed by then, the opening ceremony may still take place in January to coincide with the Chiangrai 750 year celebrations.
Once the stadium is completed, CRH will start to host and play tournaments for the local Hill Tribe teams from around the region. The stadium will also be for events and shows to generate revenue to for the club.
Also, due to CRH and CRUTD’s relationship, the stadium will be used for CRUTD to train before matches and CRUTD’s visitors will also be able to use it to train if required. Click Here to see the latest photos.
Though there hasn’t been mentioned an official name yet for the new Chiangrai Hills stadium in Maechan there is a growing body of public opinion that it should be named after the man who not only initiated it but also provided the funds to build it, with other words Count Greald van der Straten Ponthoz himself.
Formally the stadium resorts under the umbrella of the Chao Pya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij foundation, the foundation that was named after a family member of the count, more precisely the Belgian international jurist Gustave Rolin Jaquemijns. He played a very important role after the Paknam incident in 1893 that by historians widely is seen as a pretext used by the French to legitimize the incorporation of Siam into French Indo-China. One might say, that he to a certain degree has been instrumental in preserving the Siamese and thus Thai national independence.
In recognition Rama V, King Chulalongkorn the Great, honoured Gustave Rolin Jaquemijns with a Thai noble title and a coat of arms. He is in all probabilty the only foreigner ever raised to the Thai peerage. His Thai title became the name of the earlier mentioned foundation and elements of his coat of arms were integrated in the logo of the football stadium project.
At this moment the construction of the stadium is almost half a year behind schedule. That’s why the decision is taken to postpone further activities of the team and to concentrate fully on the completion of the stadium. Another fact that played a role in the decision is that for several of the players Mae Chan is so far away from their villages in the mountains that they for a longer periode weren’t able to see family and friends. Some players are for instance from villages close to the Burmese border in the Mae Hong Song area, not directly places you can reach in half a day.
It was the beginning of last year that the first bulldozers appeared to reshape the hill on which the stadium is built. A gigantic job has been done since, but it seems hard to believe how much still has to be done. Within this framework and for the moment being the first priority had to be given to the stadium.
In this video Count Gerald explains the decision: