Soccer or “fútbol” has always been a massive part of my life. I knew that people in Latin America would be in accordance with my particular sport preference at least more so than what I was used to in the United States. What I did not anticipate, was the extent as to which this would be true.
Some things I have observed in my time at Costa Rica; anywhere there is a flat(ish) surface especially if it is grass, it is a potential soccer pitch. There are soccer fields all over the place, and nice ones too. I observed this in all kinds of little towns on my way to and from my weekend adventures. I noticed that it was very common for the nicest structure in towns or cities to be some kind of soccer field. This is as well very apparent in the capital, San Jose, looking at the “Estadio Nacional”. Many fairly run down looking cities as well, I was surprised to see a covered arena for playing, or a nice looking turf field.
Another thing I noticed was that the world really does seem to stop spinning during a big game. I had the privilege to be in the country during a big game in the “Copa America” between the United States and Costa Rica, which would ensure one of the teams a spot outside of the group stage of the tournament. This was exciting to me aside from the fact that I happened to have a class at the exact same time as the game. However, following a bit of class time my teacher decided we should all watch the game, so learning about parasites was put to the side until the game came to a close.
Finally, if you want to make a friend, talking about soccer is never a bad way to start. One of the best conversations I had with my host brother revolved around soccer. I as well found myself discussing games and teams with people such taxi drivers, or other such natives.
Even if you’re not that into soccer tune in if there happens to be a game on, watch it. If not to enjoy the atmosphere of a group of people who are all very passionate about the same thing, then to have something to bring up when you find yourself in a lull in conversation with a local. Because chances are, if there’s a big game, they are watching.