Chilean Miners Warn Thai Soccer Team Over New Fame, Offer Words Of Advice

Hanna Bogorowski | Reporter

The world has been watching the trials and rescue of 12 young boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand, but there’s a specific group on the other side of the world that is wary of the boys’ future for other reasons.

The Thailand cave rescue has brought back rushing memories, as well as some anxiety, for the 33 Chilean miners who spent 69 days trapped underground in 2010.

The men were similarly the focus of international attention and media, and they’ve offered a few words of advice to the young boys.

“They shouldn’t be ashamed to be scared,” Omar Reygadas, 64, said of the boys, according to the Associated Press. “Because we were scared, too. Our tears also ran. Even as adult men, we cried.”

Since their rescue, several of the miners have experienced unemployment, psychological breakdowns and trouble forming relationships, members of the group told Reuters on Tuesday.

Another miner, Luis Urzua, 62, urged the boys to stay close to their families and not to be distracted by financial offers or the aggressive media attention. (RELATED: As World Celebrates Thailand Cave Rescue, Fears Of Disease And Infection Loom)

Urzua related his experience specifically to these sentiments, saying at times he was blinded by the media light and the multiple lawyers offering contracts and politicians eager to be a part of his story.

Jorge Galleguillos, one of the 33, said he felt like a celebrity after the incident, and was invited to Hollywood, the Vatican, Israel and the Chilean presidential palace.

“In the moment, everyone is talking about you — in the press, on television, you are front page news everywhere — and then … nothing,” Galleguillos, 63, said.

Urzua also praised Thai authorities for not revealing the names of the boys, suggesting it will help them better reintegrate back into society. He feels the boys should only tell their story when they are individually ready to do so.

“They and their families won’t have the capacity to cope with this kind of thing. We couldn’t cope and we were adults,” he told Reuters.

Urzua now works for Chile’s national mining and geological service as a motivational speaker, but he says many of his fellow miners cannot find jobs because of their mental health conditions.

“Almost every miner has psychological issues: they don’t sleep or feel well. It’s not well-known in Chile but they are in despair,” he said.

The Thai boys haven’t been out of the cave for more than a day, but at least one movie producer is already in Thailand attempting to get the rights to the story of the boys and the rescue mission.

David A. R. White, co-founder of the production company Pure Flix, said he has started talking to actors, writers and investors about partnering up for a movie.

Nine of the Chilean miners have taken legal action against two lawyers they accuse of cheating them out of the rights to a book and the Hollywood movie, “The 33,” which stars Antonio Banderas.

The miners, who underwent a similarly harrowing experience as these young boys, would arguably advise against getting too excited about or involved too quickly with such ordeal.

Urzua said he admittedly still has bitter feelings toward those who took advantage of their situation, believing the miners were not fairly compensated for the book and movie deals that were made about them.

“So many promises were made to us and then we were abandoned,” Galleguillos said. “Now we are forgotten. I hope the same does not happen to them.”

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