Thai boys, soccer team coach discharged from hospital, make first public appearance

The ordeal of the 12 members of Thai football team and their coach stranded in a flooded in the Tham Luan Nang Non cave since June 23 has gripped the world.

Thai boys, soccer team coach discharged from hospital, make first public appearance
ANI photo

Bangkok: The 12 Thai boys and their soccer team coach, who were rescued from a cave in Thailand, on Wednesday made their first public appearence at a national broadcast in the northern province of Chiang Rai. The boys waved, smiled and offered traditional greetings to the public ahead of their press conference.

Doctors, relatives and friends, some in yellow traditional garb, greeted the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach, who wore T-shirts emblazoned with a red graphic of a wild boar and carried in footballs they kicked gently on the set. 

"Bringing the Wild Boars Home," read a banner in Thai on the set, designed to resemble a soccer field, complete with goalposts and nets, where the boys arrayed themselves on a dais, beside five members of the rescue team.

A crowd of media and onlookers was penned behind barricades as the group arrived in vans from the hospital where it has stayed since last week`s international effort to extricate it from a flooded cave complex where it had been trapped. 

"Today we will get the answers to the questions we have been wondering, from the boys themselves," said Suthichai Yoon, presenter of the 45-minute programme being televised live on dozens of channels.

The boys, who sported crisp haircuts, had gained an average of 3 kg (6.6 lb) each since the rescue, and rain through confidence-building exercises ahead of Wednesday`s event, the hospital director said. 

The boys, their coach and some rescuers will answer a series of questions journalists submitted in advance, officials said.

"We don`t know what wounds the kids are carrying in their hearts," said justice ministry official Tawatchai Thaikaew, who asked for the boys` privacy to be respected after the discharge, for fear that media attention could affect their mental health.

"The media know the children are in a difficult situation, they have overcome peril and if you ask risky questions then it could break the law," he told reporters.

The ordeal of the 12 members of Thai football team and their coach stranded in a flooded in the Tham Luan Nang Non cave since June 23 has gripped the world. They were found 10 days later by a pair of British divers, huddled together in the pitch dark cave.

The boys were rescued after 17 days, with the underwater operation lasting three days. Top divers from several countries extended their help in the rescue mission.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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