Thai boys return to Tham Luang Cave a year after ordeal | News | DW | 24.06.2019
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Thai boys return to Tham Luang Cave a year after ordeal

The 12 Thai soccer players and their coach who were trapped in a cave have opened up about their lives one year on. Some still aspire to be professional footballers, while others have been inspired by their rescuers.

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One year on from Thai cave rescue

Twelve members of the Wild Boars Thai soccer team and their coach on Monday held a religious ceremony marking the one year anniversary of their confinement in a flooded cave.

A year ago, rising floodwater trapped the team of teenage boys and their 25-year-old coach in the Tham Luang Cave, a local tourist attraction in northern Thailand. The Wild Boars were found nine days later and it took another eight days for Thai Navy SEALs to rescue them.

Read more: Thai cave rescue boys granted citizenship

Nine of the 12 team members, now aged 12-17, and former coach Ekapol Chantawong marked the anniversary of their trapping on Sunday by taking part in a marathon and bike event to raise money to improve conditions at the cave.

On Monday, the Wild Boars took part in a Buddhist ceremony to honor Navy SEAL diver Saman Gunan, who died while working on the search and rescue.

"This place is very important to us. Partly because of Lt. Saman, who is like a second father to us," one of the boys, 15-year-old Adul Sam-on, said at a news conference at the Saman Gunan monument center, an art gallery erected near the cave to honor the former Navy SEAL.

"He was the one who helped us, and we need to remind ourselves that every day," Sam-on said.

Gunan's widow, Valepon Gunan, said that she believes that her husband "is still looking over all of them." She also said the boys always expressed their gratitude to her when they crossed paths after the rescue.

"Every time they see me, they would just run over just like back then right after the rescue," she said.

Many of the boys say they still dream of becoming professional soccer players. Others say they want to become Navy SEALs like those who rescued them.

"I want to give something back to the country," said 15-year-old Prajak Sutham. "And besides, these officers look so cool."

dv/msh (AP, dpa)

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