Fabrice Muamba – A community unites

I was watching the game with my son on ESPN. Uncertain as to what had happened, the faces of the supporters told you everything about the seriousness of the situation. Shock, concern and upset etched on people’s faces as visibly upset players comforted each other or prayed. Then the chanting started; over 35,000 people, Spurs and Bolton together, willing a young man to live. Chanting dovetailed with eerie silences as everyone was hoping but fearing the worst.

Not enough respect can be shown to the paramedics and medical teams for the speed and professionalism of their actions. Credit also to Howard Webb and his officials for their appropriate handling of the events unfolding and to ESPN for ensuring cameras stayed away from the scene on the pitch; how long you watched on TV was I assume personal, as ESPN commentators struggled to put a context on events.

If you love football you are passionate about it and so there are rivalries, sometimes bitter ones. Fans come together to support and cheer for their team and the songs and banter can be “ribald” to say the least. However, underneath everything there is one thing in common – this love of the game. Football is a community and Fabrice Muamba is part of this community. In such awful circumstances the rivalries are put to one side and the community unites. Not just those professionals who are or were in the game, but especially the fans, the people without whom football would be nothing.

The forums and social networks since Saturday have been full of football fans from all over the world offering thoughts and prayers for Fabrice Muamba. The very few that were more “misguided” were immediately censored by a community that has shown compassion and dignity in their comments.

I love football and am often reminded that I do so more than I should. Like many I want the team I follow to win, but as much as I may wish that, a football match is insignificant in comparison to a young man’s life. As better and more eloquent people than me have commented, whether you follow football or not, whether you are religious or atheist, thoughts and prayers are with Fabrice Muamba, his family and those who know him.

My son always wants to play this game, where you go through each Premier League team and name your best line-up for that team. Fabrice Muamba is always in our Bolton line-ups. I hope he will continue to be so for many years to come.

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