Thai cave rescue: Survivors play River Plate at Youth Olympics

Thai cave rescue: Survivors play River Plate at Youth Olympics
The Wild Boars football team attended Saturday's opening ceremony for the Youth Olympics
PHOTO: AFP

The players of the Thai junior football team who were rescued after being trapped in a cave for more than two weeks were invited to the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires and played at River Plate on Sunday.

The Wild Boars team, aged between 11 and 16, arrived in the city on Friday and attended the opening ceremony of the Games the following day, before playing for an hour with the youth team of Argentinian giants River Plate.

The friendly was played at the Estadio Monumental, which hosted the 1978 World Cup final, and finished in a 3-3 draw.

The Thai youngsters, accompanied by the coach who took them on their trip to the Thuam Luang cave complex on June 23, were given a guard of honour by their Argentinian counterparts as they took to the pitch.

"It's really a spectacular moment because these boys have lived really terrible moments," said River Plate president Rodolfo D'Onofrio.

"This is the power of football and sport, we can make the people more happy."

Thai cave rescue: Boys share details of their traumatic experience

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    During a national TV broadcast they smiled, joked and showed solidarity with one another, as they shared details of their traumatic experience inside the flooded Tham Luang cave complex.

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    During their TV news conference, the boys said when they entered the cave on June 23 they had planned to only be inside the cave for about an hour after football practice.

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    But a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them.

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    The boys had no food and survived only on water. They took turns digging at the cave walls, hoping to find a way out.

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    "This experience made me stronger and taught me not to give up," said the team's youngest member, who goes by the name Titan.

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    The boys will eventually spend time as novice Buddhist monks to honour the dead diver's memory, their coach said on Wednesday.

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    The Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital on Saturday released a video clip on its Facebook page showing the 12 Mu Pa (Wild Boar) Academy footballers and their coach thanking everyone for their concern and help in rescuing them. Chanin Wibulrungruang (Titan), 11, said his condition was returning to normal and he would like to eat sushi. He thanked the Navy SEALs for rescuing him and thanked everyone for all the moral support.

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    They also conveyed that they were in good health and looked forward to tasting their favourite foods. The 12 youths and the coach were seen in a row of beds in the three-minute clip.

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    Pipat Phothi (Nik), 15, said he felt in good health. He said he would like to eat rice with crisp fried pork, and rice with stew red pork. He thanked the rescuers and everyone for the moral support.

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    Piraphat Sompiangchai (Night), 16, said he felt in good health and he would like to eat pork pan chabu very much. He thanked everyone for all the moral support.

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    Adul Sam-on (Dul), 14, said his condition had improved and he would like to go to a KFC shop. He said he was now killing time by drawing pictures of his friends and Coach Ek in the cave.

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    He also said in English: “I’m Adul. I’m very fine. Thank you for helping us. Thank you very much.”

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    Ekkapol Chanthawong, 25, or Coach Ek, said he his condition was improving and he now felt strong. He would like to eat fried rice with crisp pork. He said he would like to thank all the people and all the ministries and Navy SEALs as well as the doctors for helping the team.

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    Pornchai Khamluang (Tee), 16, said he would like to eat fried rice with crisp pork and would like to thank everyone for all the moral support.

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    Sompong Jaiwong (Pong), 13, said he was strong now. He would like to eat curry basil rice with fried egg. He thanked everyone for all the moral support and thanked the international community for helping the team. “Thank you,” he said in English.

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    Mongkol Boonpiam (Mark), 13, said he was now strong and could even run. He would like to eat a piece of steak. He thanked everyone for all the moral support and promised to fight on

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    This handout video grab taken from footage released by The Thai government public relations department (PRD) and Government spokesman bureau on July 11, 2018 shows members of the "Wild Boars" football team being treated at a hospital in Chiang Rai.

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    The 12 boys rescued from a Thai cave were passed "sleeping" on stretchers through the treacherous passageways, a former Thai Navy SEAL told AFP on July 11, giving the first clear details of an astonishing rescue mission that has captivated the world.

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    Doctors have said they are in good physical and mental health -- a view backed up by the footage made available by the Thai government showing them behind quarantine glass in bed wearing smocks and facemasks, flashing peace signs and doing the traditional "wai" greeting.

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    They do not look shell-shocked or stunned despite a potentially harrowing 18 days inside a dank, dark cave followed by a risky rescue operation that was dubbed "Mission Impossible".

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    A screen grab shows people looking through glass at the boys

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The plight of the Thai boys attracted global media coverage and an international rescue effort as they remained trapped in the caves until July 10, and claimed the life of a rescue diver, former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kuman.

"The kids are very happy to be here, very excited," said the head of the Thai delegation Werachon Sukondhapatipak.

"During the rescue operation many people from around the world came to Thailand to collaborate in order to save them ... They feel they owe everyone around the world."

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