CHIANG RAI – Eleven Wild Boars football players and their coach Ekapol Chanthawong were ordained on Wednesday at Wat Phra That Doi Tung in Chiang Rai in a ceremony attended by a large crowd and covered live by many TV channels.
Chiang Rai Governor, Prachon Pratsakul, chaired the ordination ceremony for the soccer team at Wat Phra That Doi Tung in Chiang Rai. The ordination is dedicated to their parents, Lieutenant Commander Saman Gunan, who lost his life during the rescue operation, as well as Their Majesties King Rama X and Queen Sirikit of the Ninth Reign.
Coach Ekapol Chantawong intends to serve in the monkhood for the remainder of the season, while the 11 teammates will serve until August 4th. The 12 newly ordained monks will take up residence at Wat Pha That Doi Wao. The 12th team member, Adul Sam-On, is Christian and has performed rites in accordance with his faith.
Also present at the ordination ceremony was the widow of Lieutenant Commander Saman as well as Lieutenant Colonel Dr Phak Lohanchun, who provided medical assistance during the rescue and was the last to exit the cave.
Meanwhile,Dr. Richard Harris and Dr. Craig Challen were today awarded Australia’s second-highest civilian bravery decoration at a specially-convened ceremony for their leading role in the rescue of the 12 Wild Boars footballers their soccer coach from Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai.
Six Australian Federal Police officers and a Royal Australian Navy officer were also honoured, receiving the Bravery Medal and a Medal of the Order of Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lauded the men as heroes. Dr Challen insisted he and Dr Harris, an anaesthetist, were merely “two ordinary blokes” with an unusual hobby who were lucky to be able to lend a hand.
“Cave diving is what we do,” he told reporters. “What we’re not used to is holding these little humans in our hands, and their fate being completely and utterly up to us. What we did at that time made all the difference between them surviving and not.”
Internationally renowned for his cave rescue expertise, Dr Harris confessed himself “embarrassed and a bit shocked” by the media storm around his efforts and the “unexpected” honours bestowed upon the duo today. He emphasized the role played by many others involved in the rescue.
By Geoff Thomas