This handout photo released by the Ministry of Health, Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital on July 15, 2018 and taken on July 14 shows members of the rescued "Wild Boars" football team at hospital in Chiang Rai.
Wild Boars' soccer coach Ekkapol Chanthawong (left), who is now in the monkhood, receives his identity card denoting Thai citizenship from district chief Somsak Kunkamin during the ceremony in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai, on Wednesday.
Three members of the Wild Boars football team and their coach were granted Thai citizenship Wednesday, officials said. In neighboring Myanmar, the frontier regions are dominated by ethnic minority groups, but underdevelopment and conflict make opportunities scarce.
They survived for nine days on water dripping from rocks before they were discovered.
"By providing these boys and their coach with citizenship, Thailand has given them the chance to both dream of a brighter future and to reach their full potential", Carol Batchelor, UNHCR's Special Advisor on Statelessness, said in a statement.
Mongkol Boonpiam, left, receives an identity card denoting Thai citizenship from Somsak Kunkam Sheriff of Mae Sai during a ceremony in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, today.
The boys and their coach were miraculously rescued last month after being trapped inside the flooded Luang cave for 17 days.
Mae Sai district chief Somsak Kanakham said they were granted citizenship according to the laws. "All children born in Thailand must have Thai birth certificates in order to qualify for Thai citizenship".
Many stateless people in Thailand come from areas where national borders have changed, leaving their nationality in question.
Mr Nopparat said he submitted documentation on Wednesday to help apply for citizenship for seven other Wild Boar players who are stateless.
According to Thai government statistics, there are 488,105 stateless people registered in Thailand, but that number could be as high as 3.5 million, according to the International Observatory on Statelessness.