World 'He’s the one I trust': Coach praised as 'real hero' in Thai cave saga

12:15  09 july  2018
12:15  09 july  2018 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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Video provided by Dailymotion

Tham Luang: A close friend of some of the Thai soccer players trapped in the Tham Luang cave has declared the “real hero” of the saga that has riveted Thailand and gripped the world is the team’s coach, 25-year-old Ekaphol "Ake" Chantawong.

Auttaporn Khamheng, 17, is a close friend and former teammate of 13-year-old Duangpetch "Dom" Promthep on the “Wild Boars” soccer team.

He is also close to “Ake”, the team coach, and spoke to Fairfax Media on Monday afternoon on the 16th day since the boys were first trapped in the cave, and after the first four boys were freed.

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How the Thai cave saga unfolded 01:36. Jay Parini, a poet and novelist, teaches at Middlebury College. His willingness to put his life on the line for the trapped boys and their coach was remarkable. He showed us courage in its purest form.

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Khamheng said that while he had initially been quite scared the boys would not be found, he had always wanted to believe they would eventually been found.

Parents and friends of coach Ekapol Chantawong are worried about him blaming himself for the cave saga. © AP Parents and friends of coach Ekapol Chantawong are worried about him blaming himself for the cave saga. Much as the parents of the trapped boys have asked people not to blame the coach for the boys being trapped in the cave, Khamheng heaped praise on Ake.

“I love Ake, he’s the one I trust, he’s the one who takes care of all of the kids,” he said.

“To survive, they are all heroes but the biggest hero is the coach. I’m sure he has done everything for all of the kids in the cave.

“I’m worried he might blame himself, he’s the one I worry about the most. I hope to meet them soon, as fast as possible, and I want them to be strong so we can play soccer together again."

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© Provided by AFP Adul Sam-on, seen here on the right, appears to be the only person in the Thai cave who could communicate with British divers He remains stuck in the bowels of the mountain as rescuers work out how to get the 12 boys and their coach out safely, a race against time with heavy

How the Thai cave saga unfolded. A virtual look inside the cave rescue so far. Watch: Musk tests small rescue pod. " I called him on the 23rd of June at around 3 p.m., but I couldn't reach him or the coach ," he said. " I wasn't able to contact him .

In fact, in a short note released last week coach Ake did blame himself for the boys being trapped.

“I promise I will take care of the kids at best. Thank you for your kind support and I would like to say I’m really sorry to you all,” he wrote.

Khamheng said he was concerned that Ake may be diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder if, or when, he is finally rescued from the cave.

Auttaporn Khamheng, a friend of some of the boys stuck in a Thai cave, has praised his former soccer coach in there with them as the © James Massola Auttaporn Khamheng, a friend of some of the boys stuck in a Thai cave, has praised his former soccer coach in there with them as the "real hero". Khamheng and Dom only stopped playing together because Khamheng graduated to High School and had to focus on his studies, while Dom was still in secondary school.

At the school both boys attend, prayers are being said every morning for the boys and every evening, after school finished, Khamheng has volunteered to help in any way he can to assist the rescue effort.

Some days he has worked as much as 10 hours after completing a full school day.

And his message to Dom, Ake, and the rest of the team?

“Be safe, keep fighting, do not give up. I’m sure they will all be safe because all of them are strong.”

Elon Musk has offered to help rescue the Thai soccer team stuck in a cave .
Elon Musk has said he is "happy to help" if there's anything he can contribute to the rescue mission of a Thai soccer team from a cave.&nbsp; Elon Musk has said he is "happy to help" with the rescue of the Thai soccer team currently stuck in a cave.

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