by Amy Clarkin

Magic can be found in the most unexpected places. I feel it at the rugby matches I attend with my father and sister – it swarms around me, a cocoon woven of words and songs fuelled by anticipation and belief in our team. It dances on the waves of hopeful emotions streaming from the crowds around us, seeping into our bones and hearts.

We arrive in our hordes, wrapped against the icy cold, hair tucked into blue scarves and hidden under blue-and-yellow hats. We clutch polystyrene cups filled with tea and coffee, as much to warm our hands as to actually drink. Others take sips of brandy from silver hip-flasks that glint under the lights, the liquor spreading heat to the tips of gloved fingers and to feet lightly stamping in an attempt to ward away the cold.

We sit and stand, an azure army awaiting the arrival of our generals, our prize warriors. Our voices rise in cheers as they enter the pitch, a chorus bellowing both a welcome and a challenge to their opponents. Each individual’s voice joins the familiar chants, indiscernible from the others but lending their strength, their hope, projecting their belief in our team as though the roar of our voices can affect the outcome.

Can they feel it? The cries of support spill from the stands like a wave, flooding the pitch with an echoing roar. Does it lift them, lend wings to feet and strength to tired limbs? Do our voices add some magic, a spark of extra power? As we yell and chant in unity to ‘Defend’ or ‘Heave’ we feel as though our strength becomes theirs. Shining-eyed children watch, imagining themselves on that pitch, running alongside their heroes. There is power in this – in dreams and imaginings, in visualisations and wishes.

“Does it lift them, lend wings to feet and strength to tired limbs? Do our voices add some magic, a spark of extra power?”

Sometimes we travel to far-off stadiums where we are vastly outnumbered. Our voices seem all the more important then, when so outranked. We leave, hoarse and tired, but hoping that we made ourselves heard, that we shared what trickles of power we could muster. Even moments of silence hold sway – in the seconds before a kick the stadium falls as still as a frozen lake at dawn. We hold our breath, a deep gulp before the plunge, willing the ball to slice perfectly between the posts, as though the force of our desire can influence its trajectory.

The power of a shared hope should not be underestimated. It is there at concerts, when the crowd sings along and all the hairs on the back of your neck rise. For that moment, we are ourselves and everyone around us. We are linked together by spiralling notes and beautiful lyrics, a shared appreciation of how lucky we are to be there, to be alive. It is there as we march for equal rights, for justice and autonomy, our voices united as we cry out our hopes, our demands, for an equal future.

Can our combined voices affect those around us? Do our cries and chants reach out, giving voice to our wishes and dreams and bolstering those around us with their strength? There is might in speaking aloud our hidden desires. We utter our intentions into existence. All words have power, whether they are the revelation of a long-hidden secret hope, a rallying cry to fight for what we believe in . . . or lend their support to a venerated rugby team.

Magic can be found in the most unexpected places.

Amy Clarkin | @amyclarkin

Amy is a 27-year-old writer and film reviewer from Dublin. She can generally be found drinking coffee and reading, writing or watching stories.

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