In Honor of Chapecoense

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A few days have passed since the fatal accident where the plane taking the Chapecoense soccer team, journalists, and others crashed in Colombia, killing 71 people. Of the six survivors, three of them were team members. A few days have passed, and it’s still hard to believe that those young players who, just a few days before the accident, were celebrating having qualified to their first international tournament final are not around anymore. The sadness has taken over the sports world, as everyone has connected to that humble team from the Western area of Brazil.

Chapecoense, a small team that only a few years ago was playing in fourth division in Brazil, had already made history reaching the first division in only a few years and making the first final of an international tournament in their short history. A solid team of skilled players, Chapecoense advanced in the Copa Sudamericana defeating rivals who were bigger and wealthier teams, with honor and gusto.

As new footage comes out, and we learn more of this great team, we discover how this team was, and what this team still is. Chapecoense was the team of happy young players who celebrated by singing and jumping, hugging each other and praying after reaching the final of the Copa Sudamericana just last week.

Chapecoense was a team where teammates supported each other, and loved each other. A couple of days before the final a team member was surprised with a letter from his girlfriend announcing he was going to be a father.

Chapecoense is that young player being surprised, and laughing and dancing with his teammates because he was going to be a father and wanted to dedicate the final to his unborn child.

Chapecoense is the Colombian team, Nacional de Medellin, who awaited to play the final against them; who, in a tremendous act of love, has asked FIFA to declare Chapecoense champions, and who also invited their fans to go to their stadium the day the final was going to be played to honor those who died.

Chapecoense is also the Brazilian teams who have asked their Federation of Soccer to not allow Chapecoense to lose their division for the next three years, as they try to rebuild their team.

Chapecoense is the teams and sport figures around the world who have expressed their respect and their willingness to help this small team who they had not heard of before, but now has a place in their hearts.

Chapecoense is the journalists who passed away with them, and all of the journalists who follow teams around the world and put their lives in danger for their job and the people they keep informed.

Chapecoense is those few teammates, who for different reasons could not travel to Colombia for the final, and now mourn and miss their friends and cannot think of soccer or anything else, because nothing makes sense when your friends vanish without saying goodbye.

Chapecoense is the surviving player who woke up from the accident and the first thing he did was ask how his friends were.

Chapecoense is the families of the players who now wait for the bodies of their loved ones to come back and give them one final farewell.

Chapecoense is their fans, who were preparing a celebration and now, in the middle of sorrow, are more proud of their team than ever before.

Chapecoense is all of us, who love soccer, and will remember them in each victory, each defeat, each hug, each word, each goal.

_Alonso Rodriguez Romero was born in Lima, Peru, but has lived in the U.S. since he was fifteen years old. He is a graduate from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors in English, with a concentration on Creative Writing. He can be contacted by email, alonsorodriguezromero10@gmail.com._Tragedy seems to provide humanity with the opportunity to come together, and it was certainly no different with the recent plane crash, fatal for nearly an entire soccer team.

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