Thailand international Pitsamai Sornsai, a new arrival for Inter Taoyuan, is to lead her team against Taipei Bravo tomorrow in the 10th round of the Taiwan Mulan Football League.
Sornsai, who is nicknamed Pui, has attracted interest from media and fans as the first foreigner signed to play in Taiwan’s women’s league.
Inter are among six teams battling for the title this year.
The addition of Sornsai is a boost for the international profile of women’s soccer in Taiwan and elevates the competition. The 31-year-old brings a wealth of experience, including from the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Championship, the Southeast Asian Games and matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France last year.
“I took the opportunity to sign with Inter Taoyuan, as it is good for me to experience Taiwan’s culture and the football competition here,” Sornsai told reporters on Tuesday.
“When coming here to play, I was nervous at first, but my team and fellow players are very helpful and we have made good friends quickly,” she said.
“They took me for sightseeing in Tamsui and Guandu last weekend, and now Taiwan is like a second home to me,” she said.
Taiwanese soccer officials said that although other women from overseas have played top soccer in Taiwan previously, they were college students who were not here as players.
Sornsai is the first foreign signing to go through official channels and to be recognized by sports authorities, they said, adding that she has received a government-issued work permit as a player.
In her first match on Saturday last week, Sornsai was instrumental in defense as Inter Taoyuan kept a clean sheet in their 2-0 win over Hang Yuan.
She was given the Top Defensive Player award for the ninth round of matches at a ceremony on Tuesday.
Although Inter Taoyuan coaches have said she is to add steel and a fighting spirit to their defense, it would not surprise fans to see Sornsai in the midfield or pushing up on attack, as she is the top goal-scorer for Thailand, with 75 goals in 115 international appearances.
“By any standard, Thailand women’s national team top scorer Pitsamai Sornsai’s goal-scoring rate is impressive,” the FIFA Web site says.
She was the top scorer in the 2009 Thai Women’s Premier League with 21 goals and joint top scorer at the 2009 Southeast Asian Games with four.
Her arrival in Taiwan created a buzz among the Thai migrant worker community after the Thailand Trade and Economic Office announced the news and she featured on a Thai-language program on Radio Taiwan International.
Tomorrow’s matches at the Hualien County Stadium see Inter Taoyuan face Taipei Bravo at 10am, followed by Kaohsiung Sunny Bank against Hang Yuan at 2pm and Hualien City against Taichung Blue Whale at 4:30pm.
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