Soccer in Costa Rica is as traditional as having “Gallo Pinto” for breakfast. It is the most popular sport in the country.
Almost every Tico practices it since early childhood, both men or women, gender is not a limitation.
There is always a “mejenguero” (noob soccer player who considers himself as a pro) in every family. But what are the reasons why this sport has become a fundamental part of the Costa Rican culture?
Soccer in Costa Rica and its Evolution
The Costa Rican Football Federation is the entity in charge of organizing soccer leagues in Costa Rica since its creation in 1921.
It has been managing these leagues, as well as the National Team for a very long time.
“The ball is professionally kicked” in Costa Rica since 1876, where matches were held in the current “Parque La Sabana”.
Until 1894 is when English traders arrived in the country, bringing their staff who joined the young Ticos, achieving the first organized matches.
From that moment soccer fever has fulfilled all the Ticos´ heart up to today.
The Costa Rican Football Federation is also a member of FIFA and CONCACAF organizations that´s why Costa Rica has had the chance of participating in different tournaments.
Soccer in Costa Rica and Its Most Important Moments
- In 1990, Costa Rica experienced the great excitement of feeling part of a World Cup for the first time.
- The National Team was in Group C and played against Scotland, Sweden, and Brazil.
- It was qualified for the second phase.
- In The 2014 Brazil Soccer World Cup Costa Rica´s team raised the Ticos’ heartbeats to the maximum.
- Each match was lived with great emotion in homes, schools, bars, etc.
- Brazil 2014 was the fourth and biggest participation of Costa Rica, reaching even the quarterfinals.
- Costa Rica was classified as “The big surprise of the World Cup” guided by Jorge Luis Pinto as a coach.
- Costa Rica played a good role against three of the greatest international old champions.
Amazing Soccer Players Who Inspire Youths
In Costa Rican football we find great players who showing effort and hard training have accomplished great things, such as calling the attention of important leading figures of international soccer, some of these amazing players are:
- Alejandro Morera Soto, who played for Liga Deportiva Alajuelense. He was a great striker who could play with FC Barcelona.
- His team won the Championship in 1934.
- In 1988 he was elected the “soccer player of the century”.
- He not only played for the Alajuelense team, but he also internationalized the name of Costa Rica in the soccer environment.
- Joel Campbell, a left-handed player, started his career playing for Puntarenas and in recent years he has made great achievements in European clubs.
- In the 2014 World Cup, he scored an important goal for Uruguay, also assisting in the third goal.
- He was nominated as the best player of the match.
- In 1991 Keylor Navas, a young man in a small soccer field from his native town; Pérez Zeledón, dreamed about being a goalkeeper.
- He traveled to San Jose to join the minor leagues of Saprissa team, without even having the necessary clothing.
- He overcame the obstacles and arrived in Europe.
- He called people´s attention after his role in the 2014 World Cup.
- Currently; It is internationally recognized as one of the best goalkeepers in the world and is a source of inspiration for young people around the country.
There are many great players in the country and probably soon there will be more.
The Traditional “Mejenga”
Many Costa Ricans invest at least two hours of their week going to feel part of the best players in the country.
They reserve a “cancha” (a courtyard found in every town) to give their best.
Many of them go with their family, others go by themselves because they probably want
to chill out with friends.
The most important here is that they are practicing a sport, improving their health and their mood at the same time.
The Family and Soccer in Costa Rica
One of the best moments for family sharing is when there is a soccer match, especially in the classics (traditional rivals playing) or in the matches of the National Team “La Sele”.
Some will offer their house, others will bring the steak for barbecue, others will buy some drinks, etc.
Everyone agrees to enjoy together the game, even when they probably do not know anything about soccer they enjoy it as much as possible.
When “La Sele” has a match, everybody wears the team´s t-shirt, either if it’s the official one or an “economical copy” the most important here is to be identified with the beloved team.
Even public schools allow their students and personnel to wear the blue-red t-shirt instead of the traditional uniform.
Soccer in Costa Rica is more than a sport, it’s culture, it’s health, it’s emotion, it’s admiration and recognition for the effort.
But most importantly, it is one of the most popular traditions that reinforce family union.
In Spanish Pura Vida we recognize the importance of highlighting the positive aspects of our wonderful country and its people.
We are looking forward to sharing with you these traditions.
See you then…