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Terror hits football – by Andy Lapota

Date: 18th April 2017


The recent attacks in London, Stockholm and Dortmund, combined with the horrific news coming in from across the globe, act as constant reminders of the troubled times we are currently living through.

The three recent attacks have felt closer to home for me. One of course, was as I am a proud Londoner and often find myself in the area around Westminster Bridge where the attack took place.

I also have many friends in Stockholm who I have met through my work and, as a big sports fan, I was wondering when attention would turn to high-profile sports targets.

The attacks had something else in common though, something far more positive. In each of these cases, as with other attacks over recent years, they resulted in a response that was precisely the opposite of what the terrorists intended. They brought us together.

Terrorists aren’t concerned about the deaths and injuries they create. Their goal is to create friction in societies they deem to be living a life against their beliefs and values. They want us to hate each other, to attack each other and for the threads that bind us as communities to unravel.

People who talk about ‘Muslim bans’ in the US or who attack asylum speakers in Croydon, play to the terrorists’ goals. They are fueling and feeding the hatred that they seek to foment.

Those policies and people are in the margins of our communities though. What has been far more powerful has been the positive response by huge numbers of people as the result of each incident.

In London, people came together to march in a symbol of peace and unity across Westminster Bridge, while supporters of my football club, the team supported by PC Keith Palmer, came together to mark his passing in style.

In Stockholm, as in London, people have simply got on with their day-to-day lives after the attack. One reporter asked Crown Princess Victoria, “How do we move on from here?”.

Her response was short and perfectly formed. “Together”.

Meanwhile, as Borussia Dortmund’s European Cup match against Monaco was postponed by 24 hours after Tuesday’s attack, Dortmund’s fans used the Twitter hashtag #BedsforAwayFans to offer accommodation to supporters of the away team who found themselves staying for an extra night.

It was a simple gesture but one that made a very forceful impression. Communities are glued together by the relationships we forge with each other, strangers as well as friends and family.

If we can be this giving and supportive in times of great tragedy, what impact can we make if we act like this in our day to day life?

I teach networking predominantly as a business skill, but those networks that bind us are the platform that can allow us to achieve incredible things, both as individuals and as a community. We should all look around you and ask yourself, what could we achieve together if we really tried?

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