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After a devastating plane crash, this Brazilian soccer team is using the sport to heal


After a devastating plane crash, this Brazilian soccer team is using the sport to heal

Watch I Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense took the field for the first time since a devastating plane crash.

The connection to a sports team takes many forms, but is rooted in a sense of community. It was this sentiment that was on full display Thursday night when Chapecoense, Brazil hosted a soccer match between hometown team Chapecoense and Joinville.

Chapecoense is the community that saw a tragically fatal plane crash claim the lives of 77 members of its local soccer team in November of 2016. The crash left a team, a fanbase, and perhaps most importantly, a town, in total devastation.  On Thursday night, the team played in its first competitive match since the accident.

Chapecoense Plane Crash.jpg
FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2016 file photo, rescue workers recover a body from the wreckage site of an airplane crash, in La Union, a mountainous area near Medellin, Colombia. A LaMia jet carrying 77 people slammed into the Colombian mountainside just minutes after the pilot reported running out of fuel. The crash killed 71 of 77 aboard, including members of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team and a group of journalists who were traveling to the Copa Sudamericana finals. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara, File)

On what was an emotional evening, the match ceased to resemble a typical soccer game, but rather a rare spectacle that transcended the sport. It offered a platform for grief, reflection, and unity to supersede the 0-0 final score.

Many of the victims' friends and family attended the game, including photographer Sirli Freitas, whose husband was killed in the accident, and Alan Ruschel, one of the crash survivors, who was giving interviews and taking pictures with fans in the crowd.

I keep thinking my father is going to come up and say hello I was hiding here! I'm looking for him, but I know that he's watching me and i think everything is fine. It's horrible but fine at the same time.
Leticia Bordignon, Victim's Daughter

Even on a night filled with so much grief, the healing process was allowed to begin. Leticia Bordignon's father was killed in the crash, and although she acknowledged her pain, she offered some semblance of peace.

Being a fan of a team requires the same resiliency as the city the team represents. It's clear that resiliency is something Chapecoense possesses in spades. For now, it's being used to overcome tragedy.

That resilience means that someday, Chapecoense's games will once again be about winning and losing. But the community's terrible loss, as well its unyielding spirit in the face of tragedy, will be forever remembered. 

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