The Thai soccer team that was trapped in a flooded cave this summer is back on the soccer pitch.
The 12 boys, all between the ages of 11 and 16, were invited by the International Olympic Committee to attend the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. On Sunday, they walked onto the field to applause and a guard of honor.
“It’s emotional because the whole world was feeling with them at the time,” IOC president Thomas Bach said.
The Wild Boars, wearing all purple, played a friendly at Argentina’s Monumental Stadium, which also hosted the 1978 World Cup final.
“The boys are very pleased to be here and very excited,” the head of the Thai Olympic Delegation, Werachon Sukondhapatipak said in a statement. “During the rescue operation so many people from around the world came to Thailand and collaborated to rescue them. They feel that they owe a debt to everyone.”
— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) October 7, 2018
The boys had been trapped in Tham Luang caves for two weeks in June without food or clean water. They spurred a global rescue mission that ended on July 10 when international cave diving experts were able to evacuate them one at a time.
Along with their coach, they had been invited to attend the July 15th FIFA World Cup final between France and Croatia, but were unable to attend due to medical reasons.
“To see them now enjoying life and enjoying sport, it is a great experience,” Bach said. “It is what sport is about. This determination to never give up, to have faith that you can make it. So this was the main reason why we invited them here, because this was Olympic spirit at its best.”
The friendly against River Plate, one of Argentina’s best Under 13-teams, ended in a 3-3 draw.
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