Remembering Chapecoense: a team gone much too soon

Yesterday morning, the sports world woke up to unimaginable, shocking, devastating news. The plane that was carrying Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense, had crashed on a hill in Medillin, Colombia on it’s way to the Copa Sudamericana final.

This underdog team was supposed to be playing arguably the biggest game in team history. If Chapecoense had won, they would be at the top of soccer in South America, completing a major comeback story. They were a Serie D team, the lowest level in Brazil, just seven years ago. They worked their way up the ranks until they reached Serie A, the highest level, just two years ago. It could have been their first major tournament win. Could have been. Just a few short hours before the crash, 81 souls boarded the flight. Through social media posts, players had showed their excitement for the game. In just a matter of seconds, 75 of them were gone way too soon. Coaches, players, team personnel, journalists, flight crew. More importantly, they were sons, fathers and husbands. One player had found out last week that he was going to be a father. Gone in an instant.

Only six of the 81 passengers survived. Three of the players, two members of the flight crew and one journalist. Photos of the aftermath and reaction flooded social media in the hours following the accident. One photo showed three of the team’s players who did not travel with the team sitting at their lockers in the dressing room, stunned by what they had heard. Another showed a young fan sitting alone in the stands at their stadium.

Later on, a video surfaced of the team celebrating their semifinals win just five days prior to the crash. Their team song was being sang, they were dancing, and champaign was flowing. Personally, this nearly brought me to tears. How could such a tragedy happen?

Soccer fans around the world will remember these 75 lives for a long time. Behind these 75, there are countless other loved ones. They need to be remembered as well. All fans can only hope that they can find peace in the aftermath of this unthinkable tragedy. This team can and will recover from this, and be competitive once again in the near future. There is no news on this as of yet, but many fans and opposing teams are lobbying for the Copa Sudamericana to be awarded to Chapecoense. It’s the least that can be done to help support them.

Seeing from the celebration video, this was a team that liked having fun off the field and being together, a very close-knit group. They lived every day like it was their last. That’s what we should all be doing, living each day like it is our last on this earth. They had no idea that this was going to happen to them, but they were obviously having fun on the plane, even in their final moments. We should learn from them and follow their example, living life to it’s fullest extent and treating every day like it’s our last. You never know when you’re going to go.

For the journalists and flight crew that lost their lives in the accident, fans will keep them in their thoughts as well. They lost their lives doing what they loved. They too were fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, wives and husbands.

Finally, to any fans of this team that may be reading this: stay strong. You probably bleed green, but your team is going to get through this and be at the top of their league once again, and it will make the team’s 75 helpers looking down on the stadium very happy. This team will come back, and be stronger than ever. Sports has a tendency to bring out the best in people, and hopefully that is what comes out of this in the coming days and weeks, not only the soccer world but the sports world, coming together to remember and celebrate the achievements of this club.

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