President Sebastián Piñera has invited the thirty three miners who were trapped underground in Chile’s Atacama desert to La Moneda and to play a friendly football match on Oct. 25 with officials involved in their rescue.
The invite was welcomed by the miners, who are generally fit and relaxing in a hospital in Copiapó.
They cheered and applauded the President when he proposed the game while visiting the men. The President was on hand to hug each of the men on Wednesday Oct. 13 after they had stepped out of a capsule and been reunited with some of their family.
“We have given an example to the world of commitment, of effort, of hope,” President Piñera said early on Oct. 13, while the successful operation was being carried out. “I’m convinced that Chile’s greatest treasure isn’t copper, it’s the miners.”
President Piñera has also asked Franklin Lobos, the former Chilean national team footballer, to captain the side. Lobos briefly juggled a football signed by family and friends when he emerged from the mine on Wednesday.
The 33 men were lifted, one-by-one, to the surface from some 700 meters beneath the earth in around one day, nearly 24 hours less than officials had predicted.
Winching the men out of a shaft drilled into the rocky ground in 33 days was the final act in a massive rescue effort that started soon after the men were trapped on Aug. 5.
The rescue captivated the world with more than one billion people tuning in to watch it, while around 2, 000 journalists were at the mine site to cover the successful operation.