The two Chiang Rai businessmen behind the Mu Pa Academy Mae Sai football club, whose 13 young members were trapped in a flooded cave, say they hope sponsorship and aid will help enable the club to produce professional footballers.
The club's deputy president, Kittipong "Ko Keng” Inthajai, said all the young footballers were good boys who would love to focus on constructive activities so the team executives aimed to train and develop their skills to higher levels as well as their good characteristics and fighting spirit, signified by the team's boar crest. He said he also wanted the club to help with the schooling of underprivileged members.
"Our goal is to let them have equal opportunities," he said.
The team adviser and Kanokwan2016 Limited Partnership owner, Kamon "Ko Long" Chanthapoon said he felt bound to the team and intended to help Mae Sai district children develop their potential to achieve a football career and receive opportunities in life.
He said he was confident the group would survive because of their physical and mental strength.
Kamon said he would not be involved in any donations for the boys so people should contact their families directly.
He confirmed the team's direction would remain focused on its objective of boosting skills for a professional football career and said the team has taken care of more than 80 members, not just the 12 boys.
Saying a visit would be arranged later, Kittipong said the club, for now, was giving moral support from afar, allowing the 13 members to physically and mentally recover from the traumatic ordeal.
They would be welcome back to training when they are ready but would not need to talk about the ordeal to revive what had happened, Kittipong said.
He is the RT168 pub and restaurant owner and revealed plans to host a special party for the whole club, serving the children’s favourite dishes.
Kittipong said the club's 80 members usually gathered for a meal once every two to three months to socialise.
Head coach Nopparat Khanthavong said the club was lucky to get support from two businessmen who were both in their late 30s and keen on sport, including football, shooting and cycling.
Nopparat said: "For four to five years now, Ko Long would annually sponsor us with six-digit Thai baht investment from his own pocket.
"Around five years ago the club started as an adult team called SS, before changing to its present name two to three years ago to bring in younger footballers.
"Ko Keng also supports the team by taking them to compete throughout the north," Nopparat said.