MAE SAI, Chiang Rai: Most members of the Thai youth football team rescued from a flooded cave will have their heads shaved, don robes and be ordained in a Buddhist ceremony this week, officials said Sunday.
The Wild Boars have been enjoying their first few days home after being discharged from hospital and being ordered to speak to the media at a government-mandated press conference about their harrowing ordeal inside the Tham Luang cave near Mai Sae district town.
Praphun Khomjoi, Chiang Rai's Buddhist office chief, said that the Wild Boars will have their heads shaved on Tuesday and attend a robe ceremony the next day.
They will then stay in different monasteries until leaving and again returning home on Aug 4.
One of the children, Adul Sam-on, will not join them as he is Christian, the governor said.
The 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their coach went into the cave complex on June 23 after practice and were trapped by floods from monsoon rains.
An international rescue effort succeeded in removing them all.
They had survived on water dripping from rocks for nine days before being found emaciated on a muddy ledge by two British rescue divers, who helped extract the team a week later in a risky mission.
All made a speedy recovery and were judged none the worse for wear after a week in hospital.
On their first day out they prayed for good fortune in a traditional Buddhist ceremony and mourned a former Thai navy underwater team diver who died during the rescue efforts.
Now they will go a step further and spend time living in a monastery before returning to normal life, a common practice among Buddhists.
"They will ordain for nine days," according to Prachon Pratsakul, the Chaing Rai governor, who held a briefing for reporters Sunday at the Mae Sai district office.
"There will be about 11 boys ordained as novices and one ordained as a monk, which is Coach Ek," he said, referring to Ekkapol Chantawong, who has already spent years in the monastery and achieved monkhood.
He is credited with keeping the boys calm inside the cave.
Authorities have told media to give the teammates time to adjust to their lives but interest in the story remains high, with production houses looking to make a Hollywood-style film on the saga.
Their story is ready-made for the screen, with a bold rescue operation that entailed sedating and moving the boys out of the cave through treacherous passageways.
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