Thailand is not particularly known as a football powerhouse even in Asia, least of all in the global context. Yet for weeks right at the time all eyes were glued to the World Cup Football tournament in Russia, a non-descript local boys team called Wild Boar hogged media headlines across the globe. What achievement of these boys did capture world attention amid the thrill and excitement of WC?
For nine days they were missing -and missing in the labyrinth of a cave named ThamLuang. Twelve boys along with their young football coach entered the cave for its treacherous inundation in June and July. The adventurous group of 13 had little idea that it was the most unpropitious time for them to go on a cave expedition. As the news broke, the whole world along with their near and dear ones waited with bated breath for any information on their whereabout.
Now it was not the locality there alone but people round the globe felt prompted to do whatever they could to rescue the missing boys and their coach. Cave divers from Britain, doctors, expert rescuers from the USA, Australia, Belgium, China and other countries along with Thai Navy Seal assembled at the site in order to find the missing party and bring them out of the cave that was fast getting inundated.
First the challenge was to know whether the members of the football team and their coach were alive and if alive to find out their location. This done the next challenge was to bring them out as soon as possible because the local wisdom informed that by July 10 the cave gets fully flooded each year. So it was a race against time. By the ninth day, the boys and their coach were located by two British divers on a ledge deep inside the cave.
From then on, begun one of the most arduous, challenging and thrilling rescue operations ever undertaken in the most adverse condition imaginable. Even Elon Musk, the most high profile technology guru wanted to help by sending hand-gliding small submarine. But in the narrow cave human ingenuity, courage, team work and above all the will to accomplish the job proved more useful than technology. There indeed lies the merit of the 'miracle rescue operation'. The entire world was in prayer for the boys who survived for nine long days without foods and drink.
Casualties during the rescue operation through the murky flooded passageway were not ruled out. But mercifully all the 12 boys and their coach could be brought out safely in three days ending on July 10. Sadly, one member of the Thai Navy Seal died during the operation. His sacrifice is also for the sake of humanity. The will to overcome adversities triumphed over elements but more than that it marks the triumph of humanity. Those who featured in the rescue operation have held high the spirit of humanity, fellow feeling and togetherness in the face of danger and against all odds. The world, thus, came closer.
The unremarkable Wild Boar team has done something, although unaware, so remarkable in a world riven by divisive policies, faiths and practices that can serve as a lesson for all who are not convinced of the nobility of human hearts. The message that gets across the board is that here is a world that can prosper by collective initiatives for each other's well-being. Antagonism and war do not serve the humanity. Isolated policies and theories will only make living difficult. Rabindranath aptly puts it in his poem, Bharat Tirtha, where he invokes the spirit of cooperation of all. Although, in the poem the rendezvous was supposed to happen in India, it can conveniently be changed into the world perspective.
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