Rescued Thai youth soccer players tell their story

Rescued Thai youth soccer players tell their story

CHIANG RAI, Thailand — Trapped in the recesses of a flooded cave, the 12 boys and their soccer coach were trying to dig their way out when they heard voices in the darkness. Their coach quickly told everyone to be quiet.

“We weren’t sure if it was for real,” said 14-year-old Adul Samon. “So we stopped and listened. And it turned out to be true. I was shocked.”

That stunning moment when two British divers found the missing soccer team was recounted by the boys Wednesday at their first news conference since the rescue that riveted the world.

They all looked healthy as they walked out to applause from classmates and reporters in a hall decked out as a miniature soccer field. Dressed in green, white and black uniforms emblazoned with a red wild boar — the nickname of their team — the boys briefly showed off their ball-handling skills before answering questions that were reviewed in advance.

Members of the rescued soccer team and their coach dribble a few soccer balls before a press conference discussing their experience in the cave in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Vincent Thian / AP

The boys, aged 11-6, and their 25-year-old coach had come from the hospital where they have been recuperating for more than a week. They hugged their friends before taking seats up front with doctors and members of the Thai navy SEAL unit that rescued them from the Tham Luang cave after more than two weeks inside.

Each member of the Wild Boars stood and introduced himself by name and position. The SEALs also were introduced, but they used pseudonyms and wore baseball caps and sunglasses to cloak their identities for security reasons.

In one poignant and emotional moment, a portrait was displayed of Saman Gunan, the former Thai navy SEAL diver who died in the rescue attempt, and the team members showed their gratitude and respect for him. One of the boys, Chanin Vibulrungruang, covered his eyes as if wiping away a tear.

Adul was the logical choice to tell how the British divers discovered them because it was he who had greeted the divers in English in the murky video on July 2 that was seen around the world.

The Wild Boars had entered the cave on June 23 for what was to be a relaxing excursion after soccer practice. But rain began, and water soon filled the cavern, cutting off their escape, and they huddled on a patch of dry ground deep inside the cave.

Coach Ekapol “Ake” Chanthawong said the trip was meant to last one hour, simply because “each of us wanted to see what was inside.”

When the hour was up, they were pretty deep inside and already had swum through some flooded areas in the spirit of adventure. But in turning back, he discovered the way was not at all clear, and he swam ahead to scout the route, attaching a rope to himself so the boys could pull him back if necessary.

He said he had to be pulled out.

https://torontosun.com/news/world/thai-youth-soccer-team-leaves-hospital/wcm/15d631a4-8742-44e7-8b7e-077c3ed48f53

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