Presentation made by SFAI to Jim Warny

Members of the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI), Clare Schoolboys Soccer League (CSSL) and the local community of Ennis gathered in the Temple Gate Hotel on Wednesday evening to honour and recognise the bravery and courage shown by Jim Warny.

The cave diving expert was part of a team of divers who helped rescue 12 Thai schoolboy footballers and their coach from Tham Luang caves in Northern Thailand earlier this month.

Mr Warny played an integral role in the dangerous rescue, at one point carrying the coach of the team to safety, while his knowledge and expertise of diving were also crucial during the rescue operation.

Jim travelled to Thailand as a volunteer, and on Wednesday night he said he was humbled by the presentation, while he was quick to highlight the teamwork that was involved in the rescue.

Speaking in the Temple Gate Hotel in Ennis, where he was joined by his Fiance Asia Mania, he said: “I’m truly honoured that the SFAI would even think of giving me an award such as this”.

He continued: “When I went out there I was out there as part of a team, and although cave diving is often a very individual thing, we all came together as a team to work together – there was a team of more than 1,000 people.

Picture courtesy of Cathal Mullane

“It was all teamwork and I think that is also what the SFAI is about. I appreciate what the SFAI do with young people, teaching them about football of course, but, more importantly, teaching them about important things like teamwork.”

As a volunteer travelling to Thailand, and with so many volunteers giving up their time every year within the SFAI and CSSL, SFAI Chairman John Earley said it was important to recognise his bravery and courage.

He said: “ I think it was very important that the SFAI as an association honoured Jim and that’s what we have done here tonight in conjunction with the CSSL and especially Tommy Molloy who has done a huge amount to help”.

He continued: “Jim helped rescue a schoolboy football team and their coach, and as we all know the football family extends across the world and we felt it only right that he be recognised by the governing body of the schoolboy football in Ireland.

“We are an organisation of volunteers, everyone involved in schoolboy football is a volunteer and to see Jim give up his time to volunteer to travel to Thailand and help in the rescue was truly remarkable.”

Speaking about life since his return to Ireland, Jim said he had already been back diving and was slowly getting used to people recognising him on the street, while he noted an open invitation to return to Thailand at some point in the future.