The head coach of the Thai football team spent the morning of June 23 preparing his young assistant for an important task: Looking out for the boys by himself.
Nopparat Khanthavong, the 37-year-old head coach of the Moo Pa (Wild Boars) football team, had an appointment that morning. Ekapol Chanthawong, his assistant, was to take the younger boys to a football field nestled by the Doi Nang Non mountain range, a formation with numerous waterfalls and caves that straddles the Thai-Myanmar border.
“Make sure you ride your bicycle behind them when you are travelling around, so you can keep a lookout,” he wrote in a Facebook message he shared with The Washington Post.
Ekapol coaches the younger boys, so Nopparat told him to take some of the boys from the older team for additional eyes. “Take care,” he wrote.
Attention has focused on the only adult, 25-year-old former monk Ekapol, and the role he has played in both their predicament and their survival.