Whether it was through today’s newspaper reports, or through the wonders of the world wide web, it is likely that many of you have already came across this story. It is also likely that most of you will know who the children involved are, and why they are in Scotland at the moment. For those of you who do not, feel free to scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you will find a summary of who the “Good Child Foundation” are, and what they do.
On the Daily Record website today, there is an exclusive story stating that the children from the Thai Tims were scheduled to visit a primary school in the city (St Paul’s Catholic Primary School), to meet Scottish children of their own age, something they had done only the previous week (at St Francis of Assisi Primary School). The story then goes that, due to a complaint from a parent regarding their first school visit, the Thai Tims were asked not to wear Celtic shirts, or sing Celtic songs during their next trip by Glasgow City Council, as it was a breach of their rules banning football colours in Glasgow schools. The trip was then cancelled altogether.
This is simply crazy. I cannot summarise my feelings towards this story in a more concise manner.
What sort of narrow minded individual would feel the need to complain about the shirts that a group of visiting children wear in a Glasgow school? The Thai Tims are without doubt the most friendly, and the most enthusiastic group of kids I have ever been lucky enough to see perform. The excitement and “feel good factor” that they produce is positively infectious, and I have no doubts that they would make even the most cold hearted of people smile if they were given a chance.
They have already performed at Celtic Park, Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow’s City Chambers and the Titanic Museum in Belfast, as well as several other smaller venues. In every location, they have been given a rousing reception, and have been praised by everyone who has been lucky enough to see them. They are harmless, innocent children, who love making people smile, and who love a particular football team, nothing more. If you are honestly offended by their presence, just because they happen to wear particular colours or support a particular team, then I genuinely feel sorry for you.
Now, you may say that I am making a mountain out of a molehill here and, to an extent, you may be correct.
However, I feel this story is yet another sad indictment on our society and some of the people who live within it. Not only was someone narrow minded enough to even think that these children shouldn’t have been wearing football colours or singing football songs, that individual (or individuals) was moronic enough to formally complain about it.
Forgive me for being sceptical here, but had the children been fans of Real Madrid, singing Real Madrid songs and wearing Real Madrid colours on their trip to the city, this wouldn’t have been an issue. Not only would the complaints not have been made, but the council would have laughed them off if they were. This is exactly what they should have done on this occasion, but the lack of common sense regarding this issue has been staggering.
A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council was quoted as saying, “We would be delighted to have the children visit any one of our schools. It would, however, be entirely inappropriate for them to wear Celtic strips while singing Celtic songs.”
Nonsense. If, for one reason or another, you decided you did not want your child to be witness to Celtic colours or Celtic songs then you should simply have made a request for them to have been taken to another part of the building to do something else at the time of the children’s performance. For the record, the Thai Tims do not only sing Celtic songs. They also sing Irish songs. However, I’m fairly sure the idiot who complained about the children’s colours probably sees these as the exact same thing.
All in all, the Club, the fans, and the charity itself are doing a fantastic thing for a group of children and making the dreams of a lifetime come true for them, even if it is only for a few weeks. They are doing nothing wrong, they should not be made to feel like they are doing anything wrong, and they certainly should not have to be told by the city’s council where they can and cannot wear their Celtic shirts in a city which hosts countless “Orange Walks” every year.
Regardless, I hope with all my heart that the Thai Tims thoroughly enjoy what remains of their visit to Glasgow, and I look forward to seeing them sing one last time on Sunday at half time.
The “Thai Tims”, as they are colloquially known, are benefactors of a charitable organisation based in Thailand known as the “Good Child Foundation”. Essentially, they are a school which offers education for all children, including those who suffer from Downs Syndrome, in a safe and friendly environment. Without this school, many of these children would simply not receive much, or any education.
Now, the school itself happens to have a strong connection to Celtic Football Club, as one of the founders is a Celtic fan. The attitude towards inclusiveness the “Good Child Foundation” possess is also something which connects them to Celtic, as they are, of course, a club who have been open to all from their earliest days.
The connection the children felt with the club and with Scotland increased dramatically after the sad death of nineteen year old Reamonn Gormley. He had volunteered at the school during his gap year, making an almost unending list of friends during his time in Thailand. However, he was murdered only last year, in Blantyre, Scotland.
The outpouring of grief in Scotland could only truly be matched in Thailand, where the death of Reamonn had a tremendous impact on everyone who knew him. His death inspired donations to the Foundation from Celtic supporters around the world and touched the heart of so many.
And so, due to popular demand from the Celtic support, the Club began fundraising for money to bring the children across to Scotland, so they could visit Celtic Park, as well as several other cities and landmarks.