Last week, several national and international media shared the news that the creator of the NBA Summer League, Warren Legarie, donated an amount of $5,000 to promote basketball in Nicoya.
Some reported that it would be an ongoing monthly amount while others said that it would be annual.
The Voice of Guanacaste spoke with coach Erick Morera, the person behind the Baloncesto Nicoya basketball project, about the details of the donation and the challenges involved with building interest in this sport in the canton.
A Springboard for Nicoyan Basketball
Contact between the NBA executive and the Nicoyans was established through journalist Ruben Alfaro, known as Baby Yao. Alfaro has been creating content for NBA Latin America since 2020 and is also part of Baloncesto Nicoya.
Legarie donated a one-time amount of $5,000 that will be spent on the project throughout the year. He also committed to providing a scholarship to one athlete who lives far from the canton to cover studying, food and lodging.
“That money has to be requested from Mr. [Legarie] when we have identified someone to help. We are waiting for people with athletic talent to approach us looking for scholarships,” the coach added.
Fonseca explained that the donated money will be used to buy uniforms and work materials as well as to pay for a coach, travel and referees. Although the amount received for the project will help pay for many expenses, the coach says that they will continue looking for support from the community to continue growing.
“We have help from a company owned by a Nicoyan friend of ours who is giving us $2,500 of assistance per year,” said Fonseca. In addition, sometimes a hotel in the area offers accommodations to players that are traveling from far away and a cafe provides lunches to those who come to compete.
That donation and all of these “joint efforts” mentioned by the coach alleviate one of the big problems faced by the sport in the canton: traveling to the San Jose area to seek out scrimmages with competitive teams.
“The teams from those areas (Greater Metropolitan Area) don’t come here very often because they don’t get as much benefit from the scrimmages as from playing among themselves. So parents have to dig into their pockets so the boys can pay for their bus ticket and buy a little food. Sometimes some can; others can’t. There has never been any money available like what there is right now.”
Olivier Tanic is a father. His son, Jean Emille, is one of the boys who have just joined the project. For him, this type of project is very important for people who don’t have the necessary financial resources to pay for them.
“Here in our province, not every family has the financial means to allow their children to play such a sport,” he commented.
Free Basketball for Everyone
Baloncesto Nicoya is an initiative that just got started a couple of months ago. The goal is to make the sport popular in the canton, “for there to be enough people playing basketball and having fun with all this,” said Coach Erick Morera.
“Baloncesto Nicoya opens the possibility for boys to be able to play totally free, to represent the canton and do what they like the most,” he added.
Four people from the community are involved in the project, donating their time and experience to help train those who want to learn the sport. In addition, the Cantonal Sports Committee pays a coach for the approximately 40 boys and girls who practice twice a week and provides the sports facilities.
At the moment the Nicoya Sports Center is undergoing renovations, so they train in the San Ambrosio School Gymnasium. When the repairs are finished, Baloncesto Nicoya will use both facilities, so it will be able to accommodate around 100 people.
One of the goals is to be able to have more girls join to form a complete girls team and hire another coach to meet the demand for openings.
“We have kids who have always played and kids who don’t know how to play, so it doesn’t work to mix those groups. We need a coach for the process, one for the competitive team, another for the younger kids and a coach for the girls. So you’ll realize that there’s a lot of work,” Fonseca explained.
Would you like to play basketball?
How to sign up: All you have to do is contact Coach Erick Morera or message Baloncesto Nicoya’s Instagram account beforehand.
Requirements: You must be between 14 and 19 years old.
Practice times: Thursdays at 5:15 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m.
Where: San Ambrosio School Gymnasium
What to bring: Mask and a bottle of water.