Costa Rica Futbol World Cup Qualifying Game Shines A Light On One Of The Country’s Darkest And Most Destructive Weeks
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COSTA RICA FUTBOL AND FORTITUDE
A week to remember… and one we wish we could forget
This week has been a difficult one; in line with the recent natural disasters that maimed areas of the United States, Puerto Rico, Dominica, and Martinique, Costa Rica–together with its Central American neighbours–weathered one of the region’s most violent attacks. Tropical Storm Nate brought high winds, floods, and mudslides; it took roads, homes, livelihoods, and lives.
This week has also been a united one as Ticos from all over the country accepted the destruction through acts of courage, support, and goodwill. Our eyes and ears have been glued to Teletica (the local news station) and La Nacion (the local newspaper) in order to absorb stories of kindness aimed to lift everyone’s spirits and serve as a reminder of national pride.
Schools closed, businesses stopped operating, and time seemed to stand still.
But, “pura vida” persevered.
By Saturday, focus shifted momentarily from the national emergency to the Costa Rica futbol World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and Honduras that was scheduled for the evening. Arguably the most future-defining game of the year (as either a game win or a game tie would send the team to the competition), there was a lot riding on its outcome. Given the unpredictable and unprecedented changes that stunned the country days before, Ticos from Guanacaste to the Osa to Limon craved normalcy. Fortunately, in Costa Rica, nothing screams convention and habit like watching and cheering for la sele (the national team selection), so the game couldn’t have come at a more impactful time.
“In Costa Rica, futbol isn’t a sport–it is a spirit. When an intruding outside force as uncontrollable as a tropical storm swings for the knock out, futbol is the inner force that lifts Ticos up and wills them to keep fighting.”
~ Nikki & Ricky,
Costa Rica Travel Blog
Fast forward to the moment when Kendall Waston scored a goal with less than two minutes to go at the end of the game to tie Honduras; with one swift header, he secured a spot for himself, his teammates, and the entire nation in Russia’s World Cup set for 2018.
And, in that moment, the entire country erupted with great elation. Fans in the stadium cheered and waved flags proudly. People in the streets screamed and hugged one another. Viewers watching at home cried, Ricky and I included. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Once again, there was joy, understanding, and belief in Costa Rica.
To everyone who lost something or someone irreplaceable due to the destructive events of this week, a futbol game will offer little comfort; however, love and solidarity heal hearts. Our hope for you is that today’s unity threaded by your family, friends, neighbours, community, and country will make for a brighter and more tolerable tomorrow.
To la sele and your loved ones (especially goal-scoring Kendall Waston pictured above–a kind and humble guy who we have met on two separate occasions), felicidades! The qualification is well-deserved, and no doubt, appreciated by everyone you seek to represent when you don your jersey. During one of the darkest weeks in this country’s history, we thank you for shining a light.
Pura vida! 🙂