For a young man from the thai province, dom promthep has already been around last year. The 14-year-old from mae sai, a small town on the border with myanmar, has been to england, japan, argentina and the u.S.
In bangkok the king gave a gala in his honor. Soon, a film ("the cave") about his fate will be released in theaters. Netflix makes a series, disney a documentary. And they have even built a monument to him.
The fame comes from the fact that dom was U16 captain of the moo pah, the "wild boars", the soccer club of mae sai. At the 23. June last year, a saturday, he got on his bike with eleven other boys – all between eleven and 16 – and the supervisor (25) after practice. They drove to a cave and climbed in. Because the monsoon rains flooded everything, they could not get out again.
That was the beginning of 17 days of drama. When they were finally rescued after an unprecedented international relief effort, half the world rejoiced. It was already the almost perfect heroic story back then. Today, she is marketed as roughly as possible, with accents different from those of twelve months ago.
Thailand, which would have been lost without help from abroad at the time, has taken up the story. It’s not just about money – it’s also about image. No wonder: there hasn’t been such good news from the kingdom, where the military has ruled since a coup in 2014, in a long time. And since then not again, even if in the meantime was elected.
The focus is naturally on the children. The first weeks after the rescue from the tham-luang cave, the moo pah were still together. At first in quarantane in the hospital, then for two weeks in the temple, where they love to shave their heads according to buddhist rite. And finally together on tour: to FIFA, to manchester united, to talk shows in the USA. Three of the boys and the guardian, who had been stateless until then, received thai passports.
In the rough temple of their hometown there is now even a museum in their honor. The trainer now sometimes helps out there. In the museum, their soccer shoes are on display, as well as the backpacks they used to travel with and one of their bicycles. At the exit they all stand almost life-size in stone, with orange monk hikes and strangely enough also with blue hair. Dom, the captain, is the first to go, all the way to the right.
His mother, noi promthep, doesn’t quite know what to make of the worship. "I’m very proud," says the 42-year-old, who runs a laundry stand at the market. "He is doing well. But he does not come home so often anymore."Dom goes to boarding school in chiang mai, 250 kilometers away. At the school in mae sai, there are only five of the "wild boars" left. The sports field nearby, where they used to kick, is empty this evening.
School principal kanet pongsuwan says: "some are now at the age where they are becoming more rebellious. They go out more often and don’t play football so much anymore." But the boys were treated just like any other school children. But of course there is envy. Two of them have on instagram almost 150 each.000 followers. One would like to ask the "wild pigs" about all this themselves. But this is impossible. All requests for a meeting are blocked.
The fubballers and their parents have concluded exclusive contracts. Who gets to interview them is decided in bangkok. It is probably also a question of money. For the netflix series alone, each family is expected to pay three million baht (about 86.000 euros). However, so far, it is said under the breath, they have not seen anything of this. Dom’s mother only says: "I don’t like to talk about money."
The hollow itself has become a place of pilgrimage. All in all, already 1.3 million visitors were paid. A while ago, more than 10 people were killed in a single weekend.000 people there – although there is actually not much to see. The black hole that used to be used to get in is now closed off. A photo of the twelve boys and the trainer as well as a sign "restricted area" hang on the fence. Next year the cave may be opened again.
Another museum is to open soon in the vicinity. In front of it, there is already a monument to the man who is the greatest hero for the thai people: former navy diver saman kunan, the only fatality in the drama. The 37-year-old ran out of oxygen in the cave before the actual rescue began. At the monument, bronze wild boars scurry around his fube: one big one and twelve small ones. In front of it a group of female tourists lays down flowers.
One of them, siri meeratsamee, says: "i am so proud of him. And on my land. No one believed we could do it. But we made it."Then the woman buys a t-shirt with the portrait of the diver and a lottery ticket at one of the dozens of stands. You can die in the tham-luang cave. But you can also have a lot of luck there.