The one and only time I played football (soccer for my American readers) was in rural Costa Rica. Early on in my semester abroad there, I traveled with my classmates to a small village that was east of the capital of San Jose (where I lived) but not anywhere near the coast, so in short it was god awfully hot and humid (if you think humidity is bad where you, go to Central America, seriously).
My program’s focus was on sustainable development so “field trips” reflected that.The weekend in the rural village consisted of home stays with a local family and lectures pertaining to areas like sustainable development. The people who lived in this town had very little reflected in their clothing and their homes. They were miles from all that a city would have to offer. When I was there I saw lots of people sitting around talking, walking-that is what one basically does in rural areas in developing countries. This was almost ten years ago, before the era of smart phones that have obnoxiously invaded society so maybe it is different now but at least in 2005, life in this Costa Rican village was very basic. What do people do in a situation like this? They play football.
Football I feel is the one game that truly is a worldwide sport. While sports that originated in one nation and caught up in others are fairly common (baseball in Japan and the Caribbean), football has always been loved by all. From the bustling streets of London to the smallest, most remote village in a West African nation, boys, girls, men, women all play football. I think in areas like the rural Costa Rican village I stayed in for the weekend, football means that much more to them.
After finishing up for the day, my classmates and I started to walk in the village and were subsequently invited by some of the locals for a game of football (no, it wasn’t gringos versus Ticos, what Costa Ricans are known as). So there in a dusty and barren field, I (attempted) to play football. Most of the time I was standing around or probably looking foolish as I ran up and down the field. The one time I did get the ball, my lame a** attempt at kicking it with velocity failed…miserably. Sure kicking a ball is easy but kicking a ball to actually go somewhere while traveling with speed, well, much easier said than done.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not too into sports. Football is the exception. I think this is due to the fact that it’s not as big here in the United States so I’m not inundated with coverage of it. I can savor it just enough. I’ve really been enjoying watching the World Cup games. I was on pins and needles with the fierce game between the United States and Ghana, I couldn’t look away with the fighting ’till death game between Brazil and Mexico even if death meant a draw (although the saves by Mexican goalkeep Ochoa were amazing), and I was so, so proud of my Ticos in their first game as they defeated Uruguay, an outcome that stunned many.
I simply love how this worldwide sport truly does bring people of all cultures and nationalities and backgrounds together.