There was fear and trepidation for more than two weeks.
Would the Wild Boar soccer kids and their coach survive?
Yet amidst all of the concern, there was no blame….and in the end, just a celebration of life, and a world community that came together to help.
Matt Blomberg, writing for the LA Times, got this story just right…
In the early 1990s, a gaggle of young novice monks huddled around a half-busted television at the heart of an ancient Buddhist pagoda in far northern Thailand.
They were waiting for their weekly dose of soccer — a one-hour highlights package from the English Premier League.
“The signal was bad, and the broadcast was in the Burmese language,” Kamol Chanthapoon said Wednesday, looking back on his childhood here in the region that straddles the Thai-Myanmar border. “But we memorized the time and channel and never missed out. That one hour was all we got.”
Soccer was something that brought people together for a shared experience…one hour of shared joy.
Years later, the team we all now know was formed for similar reasons…to provide a respite and joy to children that may have had neither.
In a nation obsessed with soccer, most of the 84 members are rejects from their school teams.
No one — not those from ethnic minorities facing persecution in Myanmar or discrimination in Thailand — was turned away.
“We are the club that would welcome and train anyone that wanted to play football,” said Kamol, his eyes covered by sunglasses after two weeks of sleepless nights spent fearing for the safety of the team. “Now the whole world knows about us. Our boys are resilient — just like the wild boar.”
Resilient, Inclusive and Tough…just like the Thailand I know and love.