The Fab Five have inspired a lasting revolution in Thailand bringing the volleyball culture to the forefront of their country's consciousness and raising their profile further on the world stage with their distinctive style and game.
Onuma Sittirak was born to parents Prachuap and Wanna Sittirak on June 13, 1986 in Khian Sa in Surat Thani. Aon, as she is fondly called by her teammates and fans, is known for her powerful spike and serve, but her sporting roots can be traced back to track and field.
“I was born in Surat Thani province in Thailand. When I was young, I was thinking of becoming a teacher or a doctor, perhaps even a soldier because these careers have stable incomes that could help my family,” Onuma said.
“I was not even thinking of pursuing a sports career until I became a track athlete. I started running when I was six years old, and at that time I was learning about discipline.
“While in school, my interest in volleyball began at age 10. I saw these senior players who got to hang out and travel around the country for volleyball, which encouraged me to switch to playing volleyball because I liked the idea of getting to see different places.”
The 33-year-old outside spiker became a member of the national team in 2006 and claimed her first big accolade three years later when she bagged the Most Valuable Player and the gold medal for her team at the Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship.
She helped her team earn their second title at the 2013 Asian Championship and also won a gold medal at the 2012 Asian Cup. There were also bronze and silver medals at the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games, and six gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games.
She also took an active part in the women’s team as they claimed unprecedented results on the world stage like a fourth-place finish at the 2012 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix and a silver medal finish at the 2016 Montreux Volley Masters.
Onuma Sittirak has played in clubs in Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Switzerland, Russia, Azerbaijan and Japan. She currently plays for Diamond Food Volleyball Club in Thailand.
With a long list of experiences and accomplishments, Onuma’s success as an individual athlete and as a team member can be attributed to her stringent work ethic and tough-as-nails mentality.
“An athlete must have discipline and must work hard all the time,” she said. “There should always be unity in the team, and you can achieve that by respecting the coach and listening to your teammates. When you compete, you have to take it one step at a time, you have to focus and give all your best in each match.”
A force to be reckoned with on the court, Onuma believes that volleyball has given her more than just skills-nurturing power but also that life-changing power.
“Volleyball changed my life. I have great colleagues and I have a wonderful job. I would not be standing here right now if it were not for the help of volleyball.”
Follow Onuma Sittirak on Instagram.
Thailand's Fab Five: Creating a legacy