When #VamosChape became #ForçaChape: Togetherness

The news of this morning’s plane crash has hit really, really hard. A fatal crash, taking the lives of seventy-one people and abruptly ending both the dreams and very existence of Chapecoense football team. Players, manager, coaching staff, technical team and club media. Brazil’s answer to Leicester City, risen from non-league obscurity and on route to their fairy-tale Sudamerica cup final, wiped out in a tragic moment just 30 miles from Medellín.

Just a tragedy in every sense. A heart-breaking sadness that transcends the story, the football. Everything to be honest. Of course, there are the individuals. Every death is a tragedy. We’re talking about a group of ambitious, healthy, young athletes full of promise, hope and excitement. We’re talking about a proud manager. We’re talking about all the other professionals involved in the club and we’re talking about the others who weren’t. We’re talking about families and we’re talking about fans. Each individual loss is an individual story of suffering for so many individual people. A video of Tiaguinho, Chape’s 22-year-old striker has gone viral on twitter. Taken a few weeks ago, he celebrates finding out he is a father. That’s a young future mum. That’s a future child.

These individual losses hurt. Every life lost to an accident like this is, in and of itself a tragedy. But what makes this story so painfully sad is the loss not only of individuals, but of ‘togetherness’. This was not a plane of individual victims. This plane carried a collective, a shared dream and a shared sense of purpose. We are not only mourning individuals… we are mourning togetherness.

At first I fight the urge to mourn the loss of a football team when I should be crying for its members. A human life matters more than whatever cause a person stands for. But then, is it that simple? I think, that with #ForçaChape we are mourning not only the collective loss of individuals, but the individual loss of a collective. Chapecoense stood for something. Not talking about football here. The football is irrelevant. Chapecoense was a moment of combined excitement, a celebration, a sense of gleeful ‘punching-above-your-weight’ anticipation. It was a group of players sitting together on a plane. It was a city of fans in Chapeco. It was just another tiny, insignificant (but fully significant!) instance of human togetherness.

 If we can take anything from this devastating story, it is precisely that. In tragedy, the world can once more wake up to the simple and all-encompassing beauty of human togetherness. This story is so sad because these individuals were there on that plane doing something, standing for something and representing something… together. These victims were Chapecoense. They were a family. And they were the centre of a local footballing family. Which were part of the “família de futebol brasileiro” (Pelé’s tweet). Which is part of Brazil. Which is part of our world. Which is simply put, our human family. In this sadness, in losing this football team, are we not reminded so painfully and beautifully that life is all about being together?


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