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‘Live life to the fullest’: Thai soccer team talks lessons learned from cave ordeal

Thai cave boys and coach recount ordeal in first public appearance
WATCH: Thai cave boys and coach recount ordeal in first public appearance

Days after their dramatic rescue made headlines around the world, members of the Wild Boars soccer team opened up about what it was like to be trapped inside a flooded cave in Thailand for more than two weeks.

The 12 boys, aged between 11 and 16, offered their first and likely only press conference in Thailand on Wednesday just after being discharged from the hospital.

WATCH: Thai cave boys leave hospital, talk about miracle rescue

Thai cave boys leave hospital, talk about miracle rescue
Thai cave boys leave hospital, talk about miracle rescue

Life after the rescue is shaping up for the boys, who sported new haircuts and had regained some weight.

READ MORE: Thai boys lost weight in cave, drank dripping water to survive, hospital officials say

They smiled and waved, offering the country’s traditional “wai” greetings on a national broadcast.

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WATCH: Thai boy returns home after cave rescue

Thai boys return home after cave rescue
Thai boys return home after cave rescue

Many of the boys spoke of the lessons the ordeal taught them.

“This experience taught me to be more patient and strong,” one said.

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“I told everyone, ‘Fight on, don’t despair,'” another said.

WATCH: Life after the Thai cave rescue

Another said he learned to make smarter choices and “live life to the fullest.”

Several also said they hope to emulate the heroes who saved them, and become rescuers themselves one day.

WATCH: Thai boys and coach play soccer after discharge from hospital

Thai boys and coach play soccer after discharge from hospital
Thai boys and coach play soccer after discharge from hospital

The group had planned to explore the Tham Luang cave complex for about an hour after soccer practice on June 23. But a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them.

The soccer team also detailed what life was like inside the cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai, saying they didn’t have any food.

READ MORE: Handful of soccer players rescued from Thai cave face statelessness upon hospital release

“We only drank water,” said one of the boys, nicknamed Tee. “On the first day, we were OK, but after two days, we started feeling tired.”

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The team’s youngest member, who goes by the name Titan, added, “I had no strength. I tried not to think about food so I didn’t get more hungry.”

The boys also took turns digging at the cave walls using stones.

“We didn’t want to wait around until authorities found us,” their 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong said.

WATCH: Thai commander explains how former Navy SEAL diver died

Thai commander explains how former Navy SEAL diver died
Thai commander explains how former Navy SEAL diver died

Chantawong also paid tribute to Saman Kunan, a former Navy SEAL who died during the rescue operation.

The coach said Kunan’s sacrifice, and the selflessness of other rescuers, will not be forgotten by the team.

“We are impressed that Saman sacrificed his life to save us so that we could go and live our lives,” he said.

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“We were very sad. We felt like… we caused sadness to his family.”

READ MORE: ‘You can’t see your hands in front of your face,’ Canadian diver on Thailand cave rescue says

He added that the boys will spend time as novice Buddhist monks to honour the diver’s memory.

The boys, who returned home Wednesday night, all apologized for their actions.

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WATCH: Thailand’s cave boys pray at temple after waking up at home for first time in weeks

Thailand’s cave boys pray at temple after waking up at home for first time in weeks
Thailand’s cave boys pray at temple after waking up at home for first time in weeks

— With files from Reuters, The Associated Press