Soccer is one of the most popular activities among Costa Ricans, and travelers visiting the country can enjoy the exciting sport in both casual and professional settings.
The two most high-profile soccer establishments in the country are the Costa Rican national team and C.D. Saprissa, a successful professional club that plays in the capital city of San Jose. Both organizations have enjoyed success on the world stage, with the national team appearing in three FIFA World Cup competitions and C.D. Saprissa winning several regional titles in North and Central American club tournaments.
The true spirit of the sport, however, does not rest in the massive San Jose stadiums where these popular teams play - rather, the most important way that soccer affects Costa Rican culture
lies in its role as a fun game for friends and family members to enjoy together.
Soccer is known for its ability to unite many different kinds of people, and visitors to Costa Rica can feel like a part of the local community when they attend one of the many pick-up games that occur regularly in public areas of cities and towns throughout the country. Every day, Costa Rican children and young adults play the game in vacant lots and town plazas after school and in the evening, and oftentimes the entire village turns out to cheer for their friends and neighbors.
In addition to simply watching casual games, soccer fans traveling in Costa Rica can get involved in the local sports scene in several other ways. Many professional organizations throughout the country operate training clinics, where visitors can spend time learning the fundamentals of the game from seasoned professionals. Additionally, some of these clinics also feature Spanish-language immersion programs, allowing travelers to improve their Spanish alongside their soccer skills.
People visiting Costa Rica who already know how to play soccer may wish to participate in a volunteer coaching program during their trip. Although many children throughout the country are eager to play soccer, many smaller local communities do not have the resources to operate training programs. Consequently, several volunteer organizations offer trips that allow tourists to visit rural towns and villages to help teach local youngsters the fundamentals of the game.