Twelve boys and their football coach said they are grateful for new opportunities in life at an event to mark the anniversary of their dramatic rescue from a cave in northern Thailand on Monday.
“I’m so happy to be here again,” 15-year-old Adul Sam-on told a press conference at a museum set up in front of Tham Luang-Khun Nam Nang Non Cave in Chiang Rai province, where he was trapped with his football teammates and coach for over two weeks.
“It’s very important for us because Ja Sam is like a second father for us,” the teenager said in English referring to Saman Kunan, a former Thai SEAL officer who died during the mission.
“It’s such an honour to receive [Thai citizenship] which has opened up new opportunities in many aspects like football and education. I never expected this before,” the formerly stateless boy added in Thai.
Since the sensational rescue that had the world hold its breath for their safety, the teenagers have become minor international celebrities, they appeared on CBS’ “The Ellen Show” in October and have seen a social media boost since then.
Each of them was reportedly set to earn 3 million baht (97,400dollars) for a deal with streaming giant Netflix to bring their story to life.
“My life has changed a lot, Now many people recognize us,” said12-year-old Chanin Vibulrungrueng, the youngest of the group.
The only adult in the group, 26-year-old Ekapol Jantawong said he is grateful that the whole group was rescued safely and that new opportunities are “extra bonus.” — dpa