A Russian ice hockey team the ‘Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’, one of Russia’s top teams was practically wiped out yesterday in an airplane accident. Thirty-five players and staff of the team and eight members of the crew died in an accident where their aircraft burst into flames after hitting the ground near the airport immediately after take-off. The team had been en route to the Belarusian capital Minsk to play against Dinamo Minsk in the opening game of the season’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). This is not the first time a sporting team has endured such as disaster.
In my page on Fallen Heroes, I have listed some of the similar stories from the past. The most well-known similar accident was the Munich Air Disaster in 1958, in which a plane carrying the Manchester United football team along with a number of supporters and journalists crashed, 23 of the 44 people on board the aircraft died, including eight Manchester United players. More recently, in 1993, the entire Zambia National Soccer team perished on a flight en route to Senegal for the 1994 USA World Cup Qualifiers. All 30 passengers and crew, including 18 players as well as the coaches and support staff, were lost in the accident. Another such disaster for a football team was in 1949 when a plane carrying almost the entire Torino A.C. football squad crashed into the hill of Superga near Turin killing all 31 aboard including 18 players.
I firstly feel sorrow for the families and friends of each of those killed in the accidents, but the effect on the sporting club is hard to comprehend. It must be so difficult to build up the team to be competitive again, though I can imagine that the support and drive to do so would be overwhelming. I wish them well.