Play soccer, the national sport of Costa Rica

Liga saving a goal
Liga saving a goal

Traced back more than 2,000 years ago, soccer has long been a favorite pastime in Greece, China, Rome and many parts of Central America. Today, more than 240 million people follow the sport. The citizens and tourists of Costa Rica are no different. In fact, it is one of the most popular sports and leisure activities in the country, offering both professional and casual settings for visitors. It’s no wonder it is the national sport of Costa Rica.

Getting Involved in the Sport While Visiting Costa Rica

While many people probably don't automatically think to play soccer while vacationing in Costa Rica, it is quite common to do so. Soccer is one of the most popular Costa Rica sports, and pickup games occur often in many cities throughout the country. Tourists are always welcome to cheer from the sidelines, and many locals even enjoy letting visitors join in for a game or two. It's not uncommon to see an entire village turn out to cheer on a pickup game.

Learning How to Play the Sport

If you have always wanted to learn how to play soccer, you can do so at a Costa Rica soccer clinic. Available throughout the country, professional sports organizations provide training clinics that allow locals and tourists to learn the basics of the game from professional players. While many of these sports clinics are in English, you can also find Spanish-only clinics if you prefer an immersion course that allows you to improve your Spanish skills while learning about soccer.

Teach Others How to Play

Do you already know how to play the sport? If you have played extensively or are already a coach, you can volunteer your skills. Many children in Costa Rica want to learn how to play the sport but those who live in smaller villages may not have someone to teach them. Turn your vacation into a volunteer trip by joining up with a volunteer coaching program. During your trip, you'll visit a small village or town and teach local children the basics of the game. You'll even get to start your own pickup matches with them.

Professional Soccer in Costa Rica

Of course, because soccer is such an important sport in the country, Costa Rica is home to several professional soccer teams. The two most notable ones are Deportivo Saprissa and LIga Deportiva Alajuelense and of course, Costa Rica National Team. Saprissa is a professional soccer club with members who play in San José, the country's capital. The team has won regional titles across North and Central America on several occasions. The country's national team is no stranger to success, either. In fact, its members have played in four World Cup games hosted by the Federation Internationale de Football Association.

Getting the Most Out of Soccer Tourism

Some people visit Costa Rica specifically for its soccer reputation. If, like them, you want to make the most of your time, you might consider soccer tourism. These tours typically last several days and include a range of activities. You may have team training sessions, play in matches, volunteer with low-income or at-risk youth, or attend professional matches.

When visiting Costa Rica to experience the country’s love of soccer, consider what you intend to do. If you want to coach, it may be helpful to brush up on your Spanish, create loose lesson plans and, if possible, bring extra equipment with you. If you want to join the locals in their pickup games or attend clinics, don’t forget to bring appropriate clothing and footwear. Even if you only intend to watch games from the sidelines, you will want to bring rain gear, comfortable shoes and sunscreen since the weather in the country is often unpredictable.

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