Three of the schoolchildren and their trainer rescued from a flooded cave have obtained Thai citizenship.
The moving images showed the children beaming with joy at the ceremony yesterday where they were given identification cards.
Ardoon Sam-aon, Mongkol Boompiam, Ponchai Khamluang, and assistant coach Ake Chanthawong were previously stateless because they had never applied to be Thai citizens.
Mongkol Boonpiam, who was born in Burma, smiled with delight as they handed him his ID card.
Adul Samon smiles as he accepts his ID card. The lack of citizenship deprived the boys of some basic rights and benefits
The lack of citizenship deprived them of some basic benefits and rights, including the possibility of traveling outside of Chiang Rai, the northern province where they live.
The area is home to ethnic minorities with roots in neighboring Burma, where Ardoon, 14, was born, who spoke English to his British rescuers.
The boys were trapped in the cave for three weeks until their dramatic rescue by the Thai Navy SEALs and other experienced divers ended on July 10.
Nopparat Kanthawong, head coach of the Wild Boars team, said the four received official Thai ID cards along with another teammate who had not been to the cave but who also applied for citizenship.
"I'm happy," he said. "I want to say that football can raise the lives of children whose families may not be in the best position."
"If they have Thai citizenship, in the future, if they do not want to play football, they can take exams to become public officials or find a good job related to their field of studies," he said.
Buddhist monk and former soccer coach Ekkapol Chanthawong receives his identity card
The boys were trapped in the cave for three weeks until their dramatic rescue by the SEALs of the Thai Navy and other experienced divers that ended on July 10.
Mr. Nopparat said he submitted documentation on Wednesday to help solicit citizenship for seven other wild boar players who are stateless.
The boys who received citizenship on Wednesday in their home district of Mae Sai had requested it before the cave incident, and all were fully qualified for the change of status, said district head Somsak Kanakam.
"There are many people who were born in Thailand but have not yet received citizenship," he said, adding that residents seeking Thai nationality should apply quickly, while he still has his job, because he has "no corrupt intentions."
He said most of the people present at the ceremony on Wednesday were aware of clandestine payments that some officials had requested in the past.
According to government statistics, there are 488,105 stateless persons registered in Thailand.
The real number could be up to 3.5 million, according to the International Observatory of Statelessness.
The group says that stateless persons in Thailand can not vote, buy land, seek legal employment, work in certain occupations or travel freely.
On Saturday, players and their trainer who were trapped inside a flooded cave for two weeks were ordained as rookie Buddhist monks.
Eleven members of the Thai soccer team & # 39; Wild Boars & # 39; pray during a ceremony to commemorate the end of their nine-day retreat as novice Buddhist monks at the Wat Phra That Doi Tung temple