Thai Cave Boys Laugh And Wave As They Face Media After Hospital Release
The Wild Boars spoke about the moment they were found, their hopes to play soccer for Thailand and their dream to become Navy SEALs.
Since June 23, the world's attention has been on the Tham Luang Caves in Thailand, following the rescue of 12 boys and their coach.
An international contingent of divers and medical staff risked their own lives to pull the trapped soccer team through the flooded caves and back to safety.
Some of the Wild Boars team were suffering from pneumonia and infections from the damp and cold conditions in the cave, and have been recovering in Chiang Rai Hospital since.
But on Wednesday evening, the boys were released from hospital and taken to a local hall where they faced the world's media.
Questions from journalists were vetted by psychologists beforehand, and the conference will be stream on state-run television or streamed around the world.
The team entered the hall wearing soccer uniforms emblazoned with a wild boar and were holding soccer balls.
The press conference was a joyous occasion, with laughter and jokes as the team said they were in good spirits following their ordeal.
They each introduced themselves and were joined by Thai Navy SEALS involved in the rescue
The boys described the moment they realised they were trapped in the cave as the water level started to rise.
Their coach, Ake, denied that that some of the boys could not swim as has been reported, and said they do swimming activities after training.
They tried to dig their way out at first, and then kept moving backwards as the water level rose.
The coach told the team to remain calm, as he believed the water levels would recede the next day and they would be rescued.
They were shocked that the first diver to reach them was not Thai, and said their "brains were slow" after nine days without food.
They kept themselves entertained by playing checkers with the Thai Navy SEALS who stayed with them, and developed a "close" relationship with them.
The boys paid tribute to Saman Kunun, the Thai Navy SEAL who died during the rescue.
"We felt guilty, because of his death," Ake said.
The team presented a drawing of Saman which they had written messages of gratitude. The drawing will be gifted to Saman's family.
"I want to say thank you," one boy read.
"Thank you from the depth of my heart,” read another.
Ake said the team chose who went first, but many were reluctant to leave as they were very close to their teammates.
Many of the boys admitted they had not told their parents they were exploring the cave, but instead said they were practicing soccer. Those that had told their parents said they told them the wrong cave.
Many of the team said they wished to become Thai Navy SEALS in the future -- or play soccer for their country.
And despite not being able to attend the World Cup as was offered by FIFA, the team watched the final -- with many of them supporting France.