The Spirit of Football in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica as in the rest of Latin America for that matter. Football is at the center of the people’s spirit. Our source of emotions and conversation points for the week. A guide to everyday general discourse. And the perfect “Icebreaker”. We all have our own friends-enemies. People we can not help but tease every time their team is not doing so well.

For many children, more than a sport, football is a goal, a dream. Kids dream of having their names sung at the stadium and scoring goals or preventing them at the World Cup.

Recently, however, I have seen a change in behavior.

Costa Rican soccer has increased its level and reputation. The national team has established itself as one of the strongest teams in the area. And while we continue to improve our performances in the World Cups (this was written before Spain scored 7 goals against us in Qatar 2022). The once very regular “mejengas” (improvised soccer matches) are now less frequent at least in the cities. The practice of sport has changed. While Soccer was the democratization of the sport for years, professional “Football Schools” are now more common and the best alternative for children to take their first steps in the sport.

The problem with this is the inevitable elitism, now to pay for play… Years ago the only thing you needed to play was another friend even the ball was optional. While the plazas and mejengas are less common it is also true there are more women playing the sport and doing regularly even bringing some although small regular crowds to the matches.

I have also noticed an increase in Urban Sports and activities such as Dance, Break Dance and Skating.

Perhaps the city and the town are becoming more and more separated. While any more or less flat terrain was good for a soccer game, skating requires more complex and expensive infrastructure.

I took this photo some years ago in Quepos.

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