It’s been almost two months since the world cried for Chapecoense, the Brazilian team who inspired a nation and boarded a plane full of dreams that cruelly crashed in the Colombian mountains.
Millions of people paid tribute to the team and offered to help rebuild it. Atletico Nacional, the Colombian team with whom Chapecoense was supposed to play the final of the Copa Sudamericana (South American cup), paid them tribute by giving them the trophy.
On Jan. 21, the team played its first game with the new squad, drawing 2-2 against fellow Brazilian team Palmeiras. Among the 31 players in the current squad, 17 of them are on loan from different Brazilian teams: Palmeiras, Cruzeiro, Sao Paulo, Fluminese, Cruzeiro, Palmeiras and Atletico Mineiro among other teams.
In front of a sold-out Arena Conda stadium, the three surviving players, defenders Neto and Alan Ruschel and goalkeeper Jackson Follaman, lifted the Copa Sudamericana and were awarded medals. The families of the victims were also honored before the game.
Palmeira’s Raphael Veiga scored the first goal in the 12th minute of the game. Just a few minutes later, Douglas Grolli scored the first goal for Chapecoense since the tragedy.
The 20,000 people in the stadium celebrated the first goal in the new chapter of the club, many of whom mourned the death of the 22 players and the 23 coaching staff members.
“We deserve to do well this season,” 17-year-old fan Diego Sandro told CBS News. “We have been through a lot and still we managed to get back on track.
Pictures and videos made its way around the Internet showing the tears of the fans and the sorrows of the soccer world.
It also showed the solidarity and the best part of sports: unity.
In the 47th minute of the game, Amaral gave Chapecoense the lead. The team took a corner outside of the box and sent it to the box. Amaral won the header and put it in the back of the net.
In the 71st minute of the game, the game stopped and fans paid tribute to the 71 people that died on Nov. 28.
About 19 minutes before the final whistle, Palmeiras leveled the game, but the score was the least important thing.
“We feel that support,” Tulio Melo, a Chapecoense forward said. “I’m pretty sure we’re going to play at home in any game this season. Even the clubs who will play against us, the supporters, they will respect us and if they lose against Chapecoense I think it will not be so bad,” The 31-year-old striker told CNN during an interview.
“I think Chapecoense is the second club of every supporter of football in the world.”
Chapecoense’s Cinderella story is what makes sports magical. A humble team, it played in the fourth-division in Brazil until 2007. During the dream season they beat powerful Argentinian teams like Independiente and San Lorenzo as well as winning in aggregate over Colombian team Junior.
Their story had a tragic ending, but it wasn’t the end of the team. This season they will have to play to remain in the Brazilian first division, and they will also participate in the most prestigious tournament in South America, Copa Libertadores.
Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.