'Iron Lady' of Thai football quits

Pol Gen Somyot Poompanmuang, chairman of the Football Association of Thailand, presents flowers to Watanya Wongopasi after she resigned as manager of Thailand’s under-23 football team on Friday. (Photo supplied by the Football Association of Thailand)

Watanya Wongopasi, manager of Thailand’s under-23 football team, has resigned to accommodate the restructuring of Thai teams initiated by the Football Association of Thailand (FAT).

She made the decision after a talk with FAT chairman Somyot Poompanmuang on Friday.

Under the restructuring, Thai football teams will no longer have managers, and will only have coaches, in line with international practices. Apart from the U-23, the other team with a manager is the women's national football team of Nualphan Lamsam. The pair are dubbed the “Iron Ladies” of Thai football scenes.

Ms Watanya decided to quit on Friday to pave the way for the change, said Pol Gen Somyot Poompanmuang.

“I thank her for understanding and wanting the club to implement its policy. She also said she was ready to rejoin if opportunities arise in the future,” he said.

Ms Watanya, better known by her nickname "Madam Dear", thanked the former police chief and the club’s executives who trusted her to manage the team during the SEA Games.

“It’s one of my greatest sources of pride. However, I don’t want to become an obstacle. If there’s anything we can do for the team and the bright future of our players, I think we should fully support it,” she said.

The U-23 side, also known as the War Elephants, is the national team for the under-23 and 22 level, representing Thailand in international football competitions in the Olympic Games, Asian Games and SEA Games, as well as other under-23 international football tournaments.

The team won the SEA Games gold medal for a record seventh time, making it the most successful among Asean football teams.

Ms Watanya is the CEO of Spring News Corporation and president of its listed parent company, News Network Corporation Plc.

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