Flood Traps Team In Cave, Then Coach Suggests They All Meditate.

Flood Traps Team In Cave, Then Coach Suggests They All Meditate. August 14, 2020

A happy and relaxed soccer team was setting out for an afternoon of fun. It was going to be exciting, especially since they were exploring an underground cave system. A part of their soccer training was to always expect the unexpected. All of a sudden, their excitement was interrupted by the rushing of flood water. Being trapped in a cave, with no way to leave, was a scary situation. Would they be engulfed by the waters, and would they survive?

Twenty-five-year-old Ekkapol Chantowong was training the Wild Boars Junior soccer team. He always encouraged the boys to do their absolute best no matter where they were. One day after soccer practice, the team went on an afternoon hike to explore the caves, which was meant to help their confidence grow. Ekkapol was a former Buddhist monk, so he took their interests seriously, even if he questioned their ability.

Ekkapol was worried. The younger boys were beginning to panic a bit. At first glance, they thought the rushing water was just a part of the experience. The rising flood had blocked their only exit and was pushing them further into the underground cave. It was very clear that they were all stressed, and the coach knew that panic can be uncontrollable. He began to think of ways to calm down the team before things got out of control.

A few of the boys had cell phones, so Ekkapol thought it would be a good idea to illuminate the part of the cave that they were forced into. He asked the boys to turn on their flashlights. The darkness of the cave was quickly replaced with the tiny glow of several beams of light. Their little faces were instantly lit up by the bright lights. But the challenge was whether or not it would last.

Ekkapol instructed them to turn off their lights at the same time. Darkness quickly surrounded them. As their coach, Ekkapol knew that he needed to boost their morale. He became worried when he heard the quivering gasp from one of his players. What else could he offer? Put on a few of the lights, and come up with a plan? Maybe they could swim out. With a little hesitation, a few of the boys took off their clothes and entered the water.

The water was quickly rising and the swimmers were struggling. Ekkapol immediately told them to get out of the water because it was entirely too dangerous. At this point he figured they were several miles into the cave and it was almost nighttime. Their only option was to find another exit and rest for the night. They scrambled to search for a safe place to rest their heads.

The team made their way up the side of the cavern with only a couple of dwindling lights to lead the way. Because of this, a few boys tripped or slipped until they were able to find a ledge along the stalagmites. Ekkapol knew that this was a blessing. He quietly gave them encouragement and put their worries to rest. He invited them to pray with him, but he wasn’t sure how they would react.

They had no problem joining in to pray for their safe return. The boys were desperately trying to call home, but they weren’t successful. The parents were waiting above ground, eager to find out where their children were. Over all, the experience was certainly unsettling. Ekkapol was trying to find inspiration wherever he could. They were smart to salvage a small amount of food from what they packed. Ekkapol gave the food a blessing, and the team shared what could have been their last meal.

After a night of horrible rest, the team woke up hungry, uncomfortable, and sore. Ekkapol contemplated whether or not they should look for another exit. They climbed higher along the stalactites and found a small crevice. They were scraping and digging, but they soon became exhausted. They noticed that there was water dripping down the formations of limestone, which would prove to save their lives. Their hunger began to consume their thoughts. Ekkapol began to wonder whether or not they could continue without hope or food.

The next few days were difficult, especially with the team’s desperation setting in. Ekkapol encouraged the team to handle their stress by doing some calm meditating. Meditation was second nature to him because of his past as a Buddhist monk. He became an orphan at an early age and his aunt had sent him to a monastery when he was nine. Ekkapol learned to handle his fear using meditation, so he suggested that his team follow his lead.

After spending days underground, they nearly missed the calls of the people trying to rescue them. A few of the boys were still excavating the cave that was now almost four meters long. The noise of the excavating almost drowned out the sounds of the Navy Seal Diver looking for them. They had almost forgotten that their parents, and all of Thailand, were anxiously waiting for them to resurface. Was it truly a voice that they heard?

The diver came out of the water with his underwater torch blasting the team with light. After the continuous darkness, it was a relief to have some light. The entire soccer team crowded the diver, hugging him and each other. He promised to return soon with relief and food. Ekkapol wrote a short letter asking for forgiveness and prayers. The diver gave the team some energy bars and candy, in hopes that it would help.

When the diver left the team, he left behind a small lamp to point him in the right direction upon his arrival. Ekkapol and the team were weak and emaciated, but they still encouraged one another. The were able to cope with the hunger and darkness thanks to meditation. When they were rescued, meditation helped teach them that even though they felt weak, they could be strong.

But the struggle wasn’t over. Ekkapol continued to encourage and help the boys cope with the situation. The Navy Seal divers brought them deliverance and relief. Sadly, a diver succumbed to the life-threatening exposure. The team had to reflect on the sacrifice he made out of love. A life was taken for their safe return to the top. There were emotional scenes of their undeniable commitment to remembering the fallen diver. The story was being covered by local and international TV media. Their nation would be changed forever.

Videos of the rescue were being played all over the world. Ekkapol and his team were stateless, but the Thai government is now thinking about making them citizens. In order to honor their coach, the team now wants to learn the ways of the monks. They also wanted to honor the diver who died trying to save them. Their spiritual commitment and their rescue continued without any complications. But humanity is truly the ones who are inspired by this team’s dedication and perseverance.