Brazil is known for two things. The famous dance form, Samba, and their Football. Chapecó- A city from Santa Catarina state in Brazil which is no different from the rest of the states in the country when it comes to the love for the beautiful game of Football.
The pride of the city is carried on the shoulders of one footballing team, Associação Chapecoense de Futebol.
Founded in 1973 Associação Chapecoense de Futebol, A team with no real support on the financial front, a team which was taking baby steps in the ocean of footballing world came into limelight in 1977 when they beat AVAI 1-0 in the final of Santa Catrina State Championship with Ademir being the highest goal scorer for the team by putting the ball 27 times in the back of the net which led to the promotion of the team to the first division of the Brazilian football league. In the following year, the team went on to finish at the lower half table in the competition.
Associação Chapecoense de Futebol have their own stadium Arena Condá which has the capacity of accommodating 22,600 people. In the year 2002, Associação Chapecoense de Futebol had to go through a tough phase with respect to crisis among the owners/partners which eventually led to the change of its name from Associação Chapecoense de Futebol to Associação Chapecoense Kindermann/Mastervet but things came back to normal and things settled down gradually and they renamed it back to Associação Chapecoense de Futebol in the year 2006. In the following year i.e. 2007 the club went on to win the state championship for the third time.
The year 2009 was the year when the journey of this club started to blossom. The roots were becoming stronger, the branches started to spread themselves and the fruits started to yield. Club started from D division (fourth division) in the same year and went on to qualify first division in the next four years, which in itself speaks about the quality and dedication of their staff and their players. Also, they went on to win 4 different titles from 2006-2016. This Club was also called as Leicester City of the Brazilian league, a team who had pulled off a miraculous title win in 2015-16 season in the EPL. The team which had no big names but had the players who could win the matches for their team single-handedly. The Team had characters in there as well to whom everyone could look up to. One such character was their goalkeeper Danilo a big game player and a potential match changer who saved a penalty in the semifinals of Copa Sudamericana-2016 which led them to the finals of the tournament.
But waiting for them was a fateful day which none of them or their families had imagined, the day when the tragic struck the club, which left people’s jaws dropped, eyes left open, bodies turned numb. A nerve wrecking accident on 28th of November 2016, LaMia Airlines Flight 2933 carrying 81 people met with an accident near Medellin and all the players had boarded the same flight which was carrying them to Colombia to play the final of the Copa Sudamericana which is one of the major titles of the continent and would have probably been biggest title for this small team who had reached the finals of the tournament.
Seventy-five people died. Players, supporting staff, analysts, and the whole team was shattered in few minutes. Fans who came out to see off their players fly to Colombia might have not even dreamt that they would never see their players ever again. Whole footballing fraternity mourned over the accident, tears kept pouring out, hearts broke, people looked at heavens and cried in pain.
2016 Copa Sudamericana Finals was called off. The players with injuries who did not travel with the team were saved and had to see their teammates perish within no time.
The whole footballing world came together to pray for the deceased players and their families. People around the globe stood beside them and prayed. There were major and heartfelt gestures made by the footballing teams who wore black ribbons and black bands for this footballing club and their players. Many great players have offered themselves to play for this club for free. This reminds me of a phrase “UNITED WE STAND!!! UNITED WE FIGHT!!!“.
Associação Chapecoense de Futebol were declared as Copa Sudamericana champions after the tragedy and also the brazil football governing body has offered the team for not relegating them for the next three years but the officials of the club are denying it and are yet to confirm it.
We sadly mourn the death of the players and we pray to the god to give strength to their families to come out of this major loss.