The Lao-International Women’s Boat Racing Team has already won this year’s Dragon Boat Racing Festival Women’s Category before the race could begin on Friday.

The team is composed of village women from Ban Sai Fong Neua in Vientiane and expatriate women from different countries.

They will paddle in unison along the Mekong River not just to compete with other teams but most importantly to celebrate the sisterhood that they have strengthened for two decades now. The boat racing has tightened the connection of the international women to the village through the years.

“We never win a race but women continue to participate,” Ms Ruth Foster tells Vientiane Times during the team’s regular practice at the river bank near the village on Tuesday. Although they trained hard, the women give more value to their friendship and experience. Teaching in an international school here for almost a decade now, Foster had been rowing for the team since she arrived in Vientiane and years later became the coach for English instructions, while Mr Kibu, who has been training the women in 16 years, commands in Lao language.

Khamphao Phimasone, one of the old-existing members, witnessed the reestablishment of the village’s all-women boat racing team over 20 years ago. She says by opening the membership to non-villagers and foreigners, the Lao-International women team was organized and joined the race for the first time in 1993.

While foreign team members were transitory, membership from the village hardly changed year after year. Thus, there is a “surprising amount of continuity” of the group, says Ms Foster. It is easy to join the team. One can try out and see for herself if she can pursue the training. It is towards the big race day that permanent members get their respective places on the boat.

Source: Vientiane Times
Published on October 17, 2013